Thursday, April 28, 2016

Jennifer's flying beetle

One of the things I was most excited about for our trip to D.C. and Baltimore was giving Jennifer an embroidery piece I've been working on the past couple of months.  

Last summer while Robert and I were visiting with Abby (Robert's other sister) in Colorado Springs, we went to May Natural History Museumwhich has a giant bug collection. Abby mentioned that Jennifer would be really upset knowing we went without her.  Turns out Jennifer is a HUGE fan of bugs.  

For instance, this is her coffee table:

She found some fake bugs she liked, put them in a recessed coffee table with a piece of glass on top and presto, functional bug feng shui happiness.

I decided last summer that Jennifer's bug would be a beetle, but then I couldn't figure out which beetle because there are too many amazing ones out there.  

For awhile I considered sewing a rhino beetle, but after months of indecision I ran across an illustration in a book by Maryjo Koch, and after playing around with that idea and making several sketches I took the flying beetle route.  

I think Jennifer and the flying beetle are going to be friends!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Baltimore and D.C. with Jennifer

Robert and I are back from a very fun, rejuvenating, loud and happy trip to D.C. and Baltimore.

The first thing we did was smack some crab around at L.P. Steamers in Baltimore.  A friend of Robert's gave him this amazing recommendation and told him to drink some Yuengling with it.  This turned out to be a delightful combination.  

Eating crab and drinking some foam makes for a cozy lunch.

Later we met up with Jennifer, Robert's lively, expressive and amiable sister.  We spent a really loud and relaxing weekend with her climbing boulders, exploring telescopes and aircraft, whispering to orchids and eating some of the most memorable food of my life.  

Our first adventure was at Great Falls, where we absorbed the crisp, rainy splendor of a very bumpy path.  There were plenty wildflowers strutting their stuff: spiderwort, lily of the valley, phlox and these purple daisy fleabane:

Jennifer took this sweeping panoramic shot. Pretty much the entire 4 mile hiking experience was this lovely. 

Robert and Jennifer did their fair share of goofing around: 

This may just be my favorite photo of the whole trip (photo taken by Jennifer):

Each time we came to falling water I thought this is it! But each time was only a tiny glimpse of the grand finale (photo taken by Jennifer)

And we saw plenty of wildlife, including deer, a garter snake, turtles, a heron and this exceptional millipede (hand bravely provided by Jennifer):

The next day we went to the ever-so-eye-opening and somber Newseum (photo taken by Jennifer)

and the U.S. Botanic Gardens, where Robert had what looks like a great conversation with some Orchid Friends. (photo taken by Jennifer)

I quickly found my own flower friends, but I did not whisper sweet nothings to them:

We ate some incredible food: sprinkled pop tarts from Teds Bulletin, luscious frozen margaritas filled with dainty lime chunks from Fish Taco, a rockin', crunchy grilled cheese sandwich from Busboys and Poets, tangy blood orange sorbet from Dolci Gelati, both savory and sweet pies at Dangerously Delicious Pies, and heirloom tomato samples at different farmer's markets.

This was a very interesting turkey thing I ate at Miss Shirley's, and while it was tasty what's really important about this picture is my octopus shirt (it glows in the dark), which I scored at the National Aquarium. I don't have any great photos from the aquarium simply because I was so overwhelmed by its awesomeness. We caught a few glimpses of the one-finned turtle, Calypso, gently touched jellyfish and were completely mesmerized by a dolphin show.

Besides my shirt I found several goodies on this trip including a handful of books and a few new fabrics and threads.

Before we took off we visited the Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center, which was fascinating.  A smart scientist lady walked us through what will happen once the James Webb Space Telescope is launched.  As she talked about each process they've designed to slow it down I was reminded of Russian nesting dolls; the final doll being a data-collecting robot of course.  

Naturally Robert did a lot of zipping around and pretending. 

The plane ride back was fantastic.  I had the elbow room to do some serious embroidery.  And snacking.  And reading.

Life is good if the middle seat looks like this:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

wiener dog date

While at work earlier this evening a lady approached the front desk and asked, weren't you the one who recommended A Big Little Life?  I nodded and she said Great! I brought my little dachshund with me and I'll go grab him and bring him in so you can meet him.

Before I could blink she was gone.  Quickly I found my coworker and told her I had a date with a wiener dog in the parking lot and would be right back.  

Thankfully I got to the door just as the lady was bringing in her dog.  And her husband!  She touched my arm and said, this is the lady who recommended A Big Little Life.

While I gave her darling white-faced wiener dog lots of love she told me how much she loved the book and that the vet who did back surgery on her weiner dog was the vet Dean Koontz mentioned in the book.

For anyone who hasn't read A Big Little life it is about Trixie, Koontz' golden retriever.  And it will melt your heart and make you want to run out and smooch every dog you see.

After we said our goodbyes I hurried back inside. Tomorrow Robert and I leave for a much-needed vacation.  After my date with the wiener dog I can't help but think what a wonderful way to leave.      

Sunday, April 17, 2016

He's the Ted Kooser of the hip hop and rap world

Robert and I are going out of town in just a few short days!  I have found only one audiobook for us to listen to together on the plane - NPR Kitchen Moments, so I have a feeling we will be spending some time listening to our own stuff.  Thankfully I've got a handful of artists I love who have new albums I haven't listened to or am in the middle of - Enya, Anthony Hamilton, Birdy and The Lumineers.

But the artist I'm most excited about right now is someone I didn't even know of until a few days ago when I randomly picked up one of his albums at the library.

Why have I never heard of Mat Kearney?  His music encompasses so much of what I love: he raps and sings.  He's very mellow and folksy and the rhythm is everything from eerie to hip hop to melodic and soft to happy.  And his lyrics are really poetic and relatable, every once in awhile throwing out a line that knocks me over.  When he sings "one last time through the woods in my old
neighborhood," I am no longer at work listening to music.  I'm standing in the middle of the woods of my childhood.  He's the Ted Kooser of the hip hop and rap world, and I am eagerly absorbing his music, one song at a time.

There's a very good possibility I'll have his Just Kids album completely memorized after one short plane ride.

Here's one of his slower pieces, Shasta

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Some lovey dovey déjà vu happiness for you:

Robert and Rose on the day she came into our lives over 9 years ago :

Robert and Rose at the remodel yesterday:

Monday, April 11, 2016

much needed day of splendor & waffles

Saturday at the library was... unsettling.  One patron waved me over for computer help only to show me a job requirements page and ask if I saw something wrong.  I pointed out that one of the requirements - applicants are expected to lift up to 75 pounds - seemed a little much.  Exactly! he shouted.  I gave him my sternest look.

So you know what I did? he whispered.  I called them and they told me that the applicant had to lift 75 pounds with a forklift, and when I asked them to change it to say that they told me it didn't need to be changed.  

And then the patron, shaking with frustration, sat in his chair with a thump and waved me away.  

Twice that morning the same patron nearly made me jump out of my skin by suddenly appearing and launching into the same tirade. After the second time I very politely and firmly told him he needed to let it go.  Once he stormed off I thought that the day was back on the right track.  

But then another patron came up to sign his son up for a library card and change the address on all the cards in the family.  As I helped him he started out talking normally, but soon slipped into an Irish accent followed by what I can only describe as Indian and as I started to hurriedly wrap up the interaction his voice got very squeaky and he started crying.  Right there at the desk in the library in front of his shocked 10 year old child. And loud enough for patrons and my coworkers to look over at us with looks of enormous concern on their faces.  

He kept trying to compose himself and finally whispered, I lost my job. I lost my house. I'm sorry.  And then very quickly he grabbed his kid, who was only too eager to leave, and rushed away.

I still had all of the accounts up because of the address change so I took a few deep breaths, gave a giant smile to all the concerned faces and deleted any fines I could find on the accounts.  

That night, after the library, I babysat, so I was exhausted when I got home.  

After a very good sleep Robert and I found ourselves with an entire day to do whatever we pleased.  We decided to explore Cave Spring park, which is this little oasis smack dab in the middle of the city.  It was a very peaceful hike, and we were fortunate enough to see both a heron and a doe in addition to what I can only describe as an army of May apples just shy of blossom.

Later, for lunch we stumbled on a waffle truck where a lady asked if Rose and Ella could have a treat, and thinking she meant waffle pieces said sure.  The next thing I know the lady is whizzing out of the truck with two hot waffles for our two golden retrievers.

Even though we finished the day with yard work and made quite the ruckus with the mower, Rose and Ella thought the day was splendid and are super excited to do it again.

Robert and I wholeheartedly agree.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

all the gray you could ever want... plus more!

Folks, we officially have a GRAY HOUSE!

Interestingly enough the neighbor on the right has a gray house that is darker and bluer than ours and the neighbor on the left has a light gray house so there is absolutely no worry that we don't fit in.  

Monday, April 4, 2016


After several months of technical issues (and also not enough motivation to really fix them), Poem Bouquet is back on its feet.

Poem Bouquet is my other blog and it features only my most very favorite poems in all of the universe.  

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Calvin and Hobbes, wacky embroidery & book castles

Part 2: favorite March grown-up reads:

The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

recently I decided to reread a few panels of all the Calvin and Hobbes books each time I sit down to read anything. I have been savoring this book for roughly six months now. Time for the next adventure! - some days I feel like Hobbes: sure of myself, life-drunk, philosophical. Other days I am Calvin: my imagination controls me. I have so many questions it's tough to focus on anything - once in awhile I'm mom or dad and I'm trying so hard to put on a front and be a grown-up I miss everything. Thankfully there's always another panel, another tomorrow 

Pen to Thread by Sarah Watson

 - the designs in this book are really zany and clever (see if you can find the swan with a tiara) - I love the stitch sampler at the beginning because it demonstrates 6 types of thread in five different ways, so if you're thinking about doing french knots in yarn or wool, but you can't decide, this sampler will show you what each looks like

I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan

- it's no lie; working at a public library is quite possibly the most exciting job on the planet. every day's an adventure filled with eccentric book lovers and information seekers - but is a library a book castle? are librarians book fairies? and most importantly, does the library have self-serve margaritas? this book has the scoop! - it will also make you incredibly happy to be a part of the zany public library world, whether you are a patron, librarian or both

Friday, April 1, 2016

squash, ballerinas, pink things, whales & ghost towns

March was a great month for reading!  Therefore my favorite March reads will be a two-part post.

Here are the best children's books I read in March!

Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller

- this is a story about a girl who falls in love with a squash, and they become best friends until one day the squash is freckled and the little girl has to make a very serious and big decision - this is SO funny and adorable, especially when the squash starts to rot - there's a very touching moment when the girl and her pet fish have a picnic with the squash's babies

Ballerina Gets Ready by Allegra Kent

- who doesn't want to follow a ballerina around for a day? - this is a charming and rather glamorous way to talk about time and schedules with kids - it also demonstrates that it takes a whole lot of work by many types of people to make one night of magic

Pink is for Blobfish by Jess Keating

- have you ever heard of hairy squat lobsters (your brother doesn't count!) or pink fairy armadillos? - do you love all pink creatures, including slugs, and you can't get enough of them? - do you love crazy animal facts like how the pink sea star can stick its stomach out through its mouth? - yes, yes and yes? ok, you and this book are perfect for each other

The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond

- the unique text and illustrations describe just how giant a whale is, like how 50 people can fit in its mouth and how a baby whale can grow up to 9 pounds an hour - playful and magnetic illustrations are a little like Pamela Zagarenski's art (Red Sings from Treetops)

Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright

-utterly and completely absorbing. the real world simply disappears after a few pages. - wonderfully imaginative. for instance, dinosaurs probably smell like wet raincoats and bad guys aren't the type to have rosebushes or ducks - the writing is so grand. lots of metaphors, similes and word play. the word 'gibbering' is used to describe the movement of silverware on a train, a dead tree has funguses sticking out of it in 'balconies and terraces,' and 'thunder rocks back and forth in someone else's sky.' - and let's not forget the characters. so charming and wacky and each one quite unique.

Return to Gone-Away by Elizabeth Enright

- a must read for anyone who has read Gone-Away Lake - the story picks up with the Blake's purchase of The Villa Caprice (the grandest of the dilapidated houses) - more wonderful summertime adventures including getting trapped in a spooky house with a goat, searching for the safe of the previous owner and uncovering many glorious treasures in The Villa Caprice