Saturday, November 18, 2017

I cannot wait!

I have some really GIGANTIC, fantastic, exciting, life-changing news.

Are you ready to hear it?

Well, it's pretty big news, so maybe you should sit down for it.

No, really, take a seat.  This is HUGE news.  

Ok ok.  You have been very patient.  ARE YOU READY?

In December I will have a new gig at the library!  I will be a youth services specialist, which is a fancy way of saying I get to spend my days helping kids find books and reading them stories!

I will be blogging about all my exciting new adventures as a youth services specialist, so you will get to be a part of the journey too!!

Monday, November 13, 2017

birthday balloon ambassadors

Rachel celebrated her 17th birthday yesterday.  She picked an interesting place to eat, a place where they cooked an assortment of food (and one mountain of butter) in front of us.  It will not be the place I pick for my birthday dinner, but Rachel enjoyed it and the company was nice.  

From left: Robert's mom, Audrey, Robert, Robert and Rachel's grandma, Carolyne, Rachel, and me.

Naturally, Robert filled the house with balloons and made Rose and Ella official birthday balloon ambassadors.

Ella didn't mind her balloon duties until one got caught in the fan.  And even then, she was only mildly perturbed.  In the picture, Robert is decorating the box of one of Rachel's presents (a framed map of the United States that she can stick her pins in that she's been collecting from all of our trips).

Rose was happy to be a birthday balloon ambassador because she will do anything for Rachel's happiness.  Really!

Because I am a hillbilly and I know many of my blog readers are as well, I will share this wonderful picture of synchronized birthday balloon pottying with you.  Please excuse our yard (we do not have grass yet! So very hillbilly, yes!)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Atlas Obscura by Joshua Foer, Ella Morton, and Dylan Thuras

When I started this book my intention was to skip around and read only about the places that jumped out at me. Turns out everything jumped out at me, and I was held captive by this giant book for several months. With pictures galore, an astonishing amount of research, and hours of happy reading, Atlas Obscura is a one-of-a-kind travel book that invites you to explore all the hidden wonders of the globe.

I must admit I'm quite fearful of South America after reading Atlas Obscura. With places like The North Yungas Death Road, The Island of the Dolls, and The Cave of Swallows (which really should be called The Cave of Scary Creepy Crawly Things), I had a few nightmares during the South America chapter. However, as scared as I am to visit South America again (I've been to Guatemala), I finished the South America chapter and found myself wanting more. That's the beauty of Atlas Obscura. Whether you're packing your bags and ready to drop everything to visit one of the world's many strange places, or you're mentally crossing off an entire continent on your travel list, there's just enough information to leave you wanting more, and you will definitely want more. I love books like this, books that send me on a wild goose chase through the stacks of libraries, searching for additional information.

Though South America was a bit frightening for my travel tastes, there were many places from Atlas Obscura I would love to visit. I wouldn't mind visiting most of the crypts and cemeteries mentioned, such as the dog cemetery in France or the Hanging Coffins in Sagada (though I'm banking on the invention of teleportation by the time I go so I can skip the long, perilous journey). There were also several places I thought only existed in fairytales, such as the Forestiere Underground Gardens in California and Paronella Park in Queensland, Australia. I had just as much fun reading Atlas Obscura as I did adding places to my existing bucket list, which is now many pages long thanks to this book. Intriguingly enough, there are many places listed in this book that are not open to visitors. What a tease! Many places also require several modes of travel, both conventional (planes) and not so conventional (zip lining).

Atlas Obscura will take a long time to read, so I recommend reading it slowly. I also recommend leaving it out on the coffee table, because the conversations it ignites are just as strange and delightful as the book. And when you finish reading it, don't forget to read the imaginative organization of its content just in case you're interested in say, Very Large Things or Self-Built Castles and you want to make sure you didn't miss anything.

Monday, November 6, 2017


The master bathroom has come a loooong way.

Believe it or not the picture above morphed into this: 


The tub is a fancy schmancy air tub.  It's pretty darn relaxing.  In the master bath we still have a handful of things to do - some small cabinet flaws, light fixtures, and a vanity mirror.  We are also going to put in a magazine rack, because the tub is the best place to read them.  Today, while I was doing yoga upstairs, there was a terrible racket going on downstairs.  A terrible, wonderful racket because when I peeked in the downstairs bathrooms there were newly-installed towel racks and toilet paper holders.

I am a stress writer/reader.  I retreat into words whenever I am feeling overwhelmed.  When I am feeling ok with the world I take all the books off the shelves, clean everything, flip through my favorite books, make a stack of ones to reread, and then put everything back on the shelves in a new way.  It's fair to say I live in books and they live in me.   

Recently, Robert asked for his own shelf so that he doesn't have to dig too much to find his library books.  But he doesn't have a lot of library books checked out currently so I gave his shelf a little bit of love - one of his beloved stuffed animals (we're never too old for soft and squishy things), a few of his airplane books, and his propeller.  

I also gave the family bibles a new spot next to a bit of humor and some of my favorite books that give me peace.  If you look closely you will see our doggy camera.  It's a little camera that allows us to talk to them when we are away (and also tell them to get off the couch).    

I gave the gnome and his monster foes to my children's books.

And tonight, this tiny bat flew into my favorite teacup and made himself at home.   

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

War, Scary Places, & Pretty Data

October was an interesting and unusual month of reading.  I read Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's much anticipated sequel, The War I Finally Won, and LOVED it.  But I didn't love the first book, so there was much inner turmoil - you mean I have to get excited about the first book so I can talk about the second book?  Jeepers!  I also finished an excellent book I've been reading since July.  It really should be included in my July, August, September and October favorite books lists, but what book needs that kind of ego?  And then there was Dear Data, which I read months ago, gave an ok rating, and dismissed it, only to find out that it planted the seeds of a thousand wildflowers in my imagination. Sneaky sneaky, wonderful books.    

Atlas Obscura by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton

Probably the best travel book I've ever read, although there are many places too terrifying to visit! My full review will be posted soon.

The War that Saved My Life & The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The first book in this series was good, and I enjoyed it immensely until its hurried and unrealistic ending. But it's still a good read, and it's necessary to read it before reading The War I Finally Won, which is a fantastic sequel. Though there was a bit of disjointed writing, the relationships, characters, and lessons that Ada learns on her journey to "win her war" are beautiful and easily outweigh the disjointed writing. My favorite moment is during Christmas, when Ada reflects about how much she has gained, even during wartime. "I'd been a crippled, ignorant prisoner looking out the window of a dingy London flat. Now I walked on two feet and rode and read and shared a bedroom and bookshelves with the daughter of a baron."

After the Fall by Dan Santat

Oh Humpty Dumpty, I love this fractured nursery rhyme because it paints you in such an inspirational light. Readers will connect with Humpty Dumpty's struggle to conquer his fear of climbing back up on the wall again. And the ending is so incredibly imaginative and heartwarming. My favorite part is the moment when Humpty Dumpty tells the reader "there were some parts that couldn't be healed with bandages and glue." Though it was a bit inappropriate to laugh at that moment, I couldn't help myself and guffawed loudly.

This is my favorite page from the book:

Dear Data by by Stefanie Posavec and Giorgia Lupi

"Dear Data is a year-long, analog data drawing project by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, two award-winning information designers living on different sides of the Atlantic.  By collecting and hand drawing their personal data and sending it to each other in the form of postcards, they became friends." This is a description from the Dear Data website.

The first time I read this I thought, "yay for another take on visual data."  I gave it three stars and returned it to the library.  But since then I can't stop thinking about it.  This book has snuck into my thoughts, positively impacted my art, and has completely dominated the chunk of my brain labeled 'joy.'  I finally bought the book because I can't live without it.  I know there's a website, but I'm a book gal, and there's something particularly wonderful about holding and reading this book because it's soft and bulky and quite lovable.

Here is an example of their oh-so-pretty data.  This is titled "A Week of General Complaints and Grumpiness."  Seriously!!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Happy Mole Day!

We've been very busy with home stuff.  Both our master closet and mudroom are finished!  As soon as the master bath is done we will finally be able to move all of our clothes and toiletries downstairs. We're crossing our fingers that the master bath is finished this weekend.  And because we're hopeful, we moved quite a bit of stuff down today (after another backbreaking round of thorough cleaning).

This is the entryway to the mudroom!  

And here is my side of the closet!

Because Rachel joined the International Baccalaureate this year, she is spending way way way more time studying.  She's doing an amazing job, and we are so incredibly proud of her. We have noticed that she is easily distracted however, and really needs her own place to study. We were originally going to set up a desk in her room but there were two problems with that.  First, she needs a place to get away from it all and sleep. Also, her room is upstairs and her homework help hangs out downstairs.  So we talked with Rachel about the idea of setting up a desk area in the guest bedroom, which is on the first floor, and she loved the idea.  Robert and I flew through ikea last Monday, and Robert put all the furniture together at lightning fast speed.  Really.  He was a beast! Last night we revealed the space to her, and she seemed quite pleased!

Today is also Mole Day!!  So what the heck does that mean? The Mole is a unit of measurement and Mole Day commemorates Avogadro's Number, which is 6.02 x 10^23 (Avogadro is a famous, very dead scientist). Rachel has been preparing for this day for awhile.  Last year she participated in Mole day, and this year, as a Junior, she helped organize it. Because the party started at 6:02 AM, she was out of the house before I was even awake!  

Here's this year's Mole Day shirt:

So yes, there has been much excitement here as we nest a little more in our house that's so very close to being finished.  And I'm so hopeful Rachel loves her study space.  She is already doing awesome things in there. Like her self portrait.

Amazing, huh?

Friday, October 13, 2017

interesting solution to an everyday problem

Yesterday, a patron approached the desk and asked if I could look up her library card number.  After looking it up and writing it down for her, she shrugged her shoulders dejectedly and said she may never find her library card again.  I told her I'd be happy to make her a new card and it was free, and she politely said no thanks and asked if she could use one of our permanent markers.  I fanned out a selection of markers for her (she chose black), and I went back to discharging books at a different computer.

A few minutes later I noticed the patron was still standing at the help desk.  I began walking towards the desk to ask her if she needed anything else, and that's when I noticed what she was doing.  She was very carefully writing her library card number on every single card in her wallet - credit card, insurance card, punch cards, everything.  She was very intent on the task at hand and didn't notice me approaching or backing away from the desk.

After several minutes, she put the cap back on the permanent marker, flipped through her stack of cards, and satisfied that her library card number was on each card, put them back into her wallet.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


A friend/coworker of mine used her thinker and googled the mysterious statue and her animal friends.

Turns out the statue's name is Hebe, and it looks like she's been demoted from Goddess to Geocache.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

orange flower

I have been in the mood for neutrals!  I've actually stepped back from journaling because a couple pages pretty much look like camouflage.  There's nothing wrong with camouflage of course.  I just don't want the last few months looking the same!  

Hopefully embroidering this flower fulfilled my current zest for neutrals.  It was a very peaceful project.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Autumn in my city

Though oak mites are gnashing their terrible chompers right now, weather in my neck of the woods has been perfect and worth every miserable oak mite bite.  

We've been gallivanting around the city, enjoying the weather and soaking up the beginnings of a beautiful autumn.

I cannot resist picking up hedge apples, even at the risk of my fingers going straight through a soft spot right into the rotten gunk inside.  So I applaud this unique way of displaying hedge apples and may even try something like it next year.

We've spent quite a bit of time in the creek when it's not raining.  I love how this ground cover is slowly sneaking its way down.  

And I have no idea what this is.  A shrine?  Is this a Saint? I'm enamored with it but only have speculations.  All of the figurines are animals and birds, and there are quite a few doves.