April 30, 2013

Mammoth Cave National Park

The one thing about traveling in the cusp season is that you miss all the crowds, and often luck out with fantastic weather. This is my first visit to Mammoth Cave National Park, and I love it.

We arrived early yesterday afternoon - turns out it is only one and a half hours from our Maker's Mark stop - passing along that tip in case you are ever in the area. We had our pick of campsites, and found one that is lovely and shaded. This morning, signed up for the Historic Cave Tour, that lasted for 2 hours and took us deep into a portion of the cave system. One could spend ones live exploring all the tunnels underground. I had no idea what to expect. Sure, I've been in caves before, in Turkey, and Thailand, but this is nothing like those caves. This is the grandmama of caves. Indeed this is the largest cave system in the world, and most of it is still uncharted. Wow. And mammoth is right.

The lighting is awful for photos, and no tripods are allowed, so I'm sharing with you a postcard pic. It does not begin to do it justice, but you get a taste. With the all lights extinguished  it is the blackest black you can imagine, and there is no sound at all. I started to appreciate how getting sent to "the hole" could break someone.

And the icing on the cake? Mammoth Cave NP is a World Hertiage site. So another of those sites checked of my list of places to visit. How sweet is that?

April 29, 2013

Maker's Mark Tour

As ambassadors, a stop here was mandatory. Not only was the tour informative, the grounds lovely, and the tasting yummy, we also got to pick up our official ambassador pins.

April 28, 2013

Final Day @ the Rolex.

Storm clouds threatened all day, but held off long enough for us to explore the Horses of the World barn and show. Such beautiful animals. My faves? The Gypsy and Arabian. Want one of each. To go with those boots you know.

Then off to the Rolex Arena for the final event of the three day competition - the jumping test. What wonderful weekend watching world class riders and horses compete in a lovely setting. So loved this event might just have to come back.

Now waiting out the thunder storms in the gazebo portion of our new tent, and planning on tasting our way along the Bourbon Trail tomorrow.

April 27, 2013

Rolex Kentucky

Hanging out with horses and horse people today at the Rolex Kentucky - a four star event - the Olympics is only rated 3 stars. Stumbled onto a fun party. Cross country event today. Beautiful horses and lovely people. Not a person has gripped about the cool, drizzly day. Love the boots that horse people wear. Lots on sale here, but cannot justify the expense. Maybe I should get a horse.

Kentucky Morning

The weather is cool, the grass emerald green, and the crowds have started rolling in. After a night camped in the primitive sites of the Kentucky Horse Park, sipping hot tea, greeting dogs, and planning our day at the Rolex Kentucky event.

April 26, 2013

Pig #3

My fascination with pigs continues. This ceramic piggy is Russian I hear, and I love the expression on her face. Yes, I have decided that it is a girl piggy. There is something soothing about sitting down with a pen and watercolors in the midst of large gatherings.

(Click on image to enlarge)
Pen and watercolor pencils.

April 25, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 16

This is week 16, and I continue to love this project. Highlights of the week included my brother being discharged after his surgery (so awesome), Kenyans doing well in the Boston marathon, and celebrating Jane's 90th birthday. The low point of the week was the bombing of the Boston marathon and its aftermath. As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the double spread:

Left side:

Right side:

Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Title background paper by Andrea. Numbered card by Melissa. This Week element by Marisa. 4x6 collage templates by Liz. Flower elements by unknown. Marathon photo by The Boston Globe.

April 24, 2013

World Book Night 2013

As a reader, I love this project. I handed out 20 copies of The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh for World Book Night this year. 
I am out of town, so decided to bring my box of books along with me to Ann Arbor. Since I was meeting my friend, Pam, for lunch on State Street, decided to hand out my books in the area. And what a different experience I had from last year. Maybe because it was a younger crowd, maybe because it was a lovely warm day, maybe it was because people in Michigan are friendly to strangers. I had fun, and handed out all my book in about 15 minutes. Love getting outside my comfort zone, and I look forward to next year.

Were you a giver? I would love to hear your experience. And if you are interested, do sign up to be a giver next year. Thanks for stopping by.

April 23, 2013

Pig #2

I've been playing in my travel journal. Carving out time and space to write, reflect, process, and sketch.  My muse? Pigs. It turns out that sketching pigs delights me. There is something fun about seeing collections of pigs. I had no idea the sheer variety of pig stuff there is out there. Check out this wooden napkin ring. How fun is that?

(Click in image to enlarge)
Pen and watercolors.

April 22, 2013

Recent Reads

46. Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors
This would be a fun and colorful way to introduce beginner readers to words and a culture they might not be otherwise exposed to. Rating: 3 stars.

47. Looking at Lincoln
This little biography of Lincoln is done with Maira Kalman's usual flair, and is a delight to read. I love how she paints with such care everyday things - Lincoln's hat for example. There is something so fresh about her style. I guess this is targeted for the kiddie set, but I poured over it, and learned something new to boot. Rating: 4 stars.

48. Safe from the Neighbors
I like how the author weaves a story set in present day Mississippi, and the flash point days of 1962 during the integration of Ole Miss. The novel explores history - personal, town, state and national - and the consequences of actions both great and small. Rating: 3 stars.

49. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar
First thing to know going in, is that this is not your mama's advice column of old. Second thing to know is that it works better if you look at each letter/response as a short story, and treat it that way. Read. Linger. Marinate. Pet the cat. Take a nap with said cat. Go for a walk. Read another letter. Repeat.

I read this book over a couple of months, dipping in and out, tapas style, and I honestly believe that the book looses its power if read in one sitting. Yes, some letter/response combinations are amazing, and some are merely OK, but the writing. The writing is fierce, and honest, and blazing, and sharp, and clear, and when it is good, it is oh so good. Take my breath away good. And I say this as one of the few people on the planet who did not love her hiking memoir Wild. This one reads more like an authentic, soul-baring memoir than Wild, and with this one, she just got herself a new fan. Dang it but I've joined the herd. Rating: 4 stars.

April 21, 2013

Pig Mama at 90

We celebrated Jane's (aka Pig Mama) 90th birthday yesterday.

A fun celebration with family and friends and dogs. And certainly no celebration is complete without a photo with pig ears.

April 20, 2013

Local wildlife

Lots of deer here in the "wilds" of Ann Arbor. Small herds walk through the yard, munching all the fresh spring greens, much to the dismay of the resident gardener. On my walk yesterday afternoon stumbled upon several resting in a glade. Not sure which of us was more surprised.

April 19, 2013

Hanging with pigs

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, to celebrate Jane's 90th birthday. She was born in the year of the pig, so there are lots of pigs around here. Wonder how many of them I can sketch this visit.

(Click in image to enlarge)

Granta's Best of Young British Novelists

The list was released earlier this week, and there are so many new authors I've now added to my TBR pile.

I loved the New York Times photo slideshow of these authors.  You can see it here.

April 18, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 15

This is week 15, and I continue to love this project. The news that my brother needed surgery overshadowed everything else this week. So grateful that everything went well, and he is recovering as expected. On Friday morning headed up to Manchester, Vermont for my first ever Booktopia. As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the double spread:

Left side:

Right side:

Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Heart image and Stay Calm card found on the web. Title background is a photo of the bedspread at The Palmer Hotel.

April 17, 2013

Journal page

I like to sketch while I listen to podcasts, so I was delighted to learn that Danny Gregory has video interviews with some of the artists featured in his new book. Here is the quick sketch I made while he talked to Tommy Kane.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Pen and watercolors. You can watch this interesting interview here.

April 16, 2013

What next?

I do not think I've had a restful night's sleep since last Tuesday, when I heard the news that my brother would need surgery. Friday, the day of his surgery was an especially stressful day. Even after the great news that everything went well, it took about twelve hours to let it really sink in and relax. His recovery has been going well. So I started to breathe easier.

Yesterday was the running of the Boston Marathon. An event I love. I cry each and every time a Kenyan runner crosses the finish line. Especially if they are in first place. I take out my huge Kenyan flag and cheer them on. This year was special in that I am a runner too. Was feeling great. Kenyan men finished 2nd, 5th and 7th. The women did even better finishing 1st and 3rd, and you know I was crying when Rita Jeptoo broke that tape. What a smart race she ran.

Then it was time to root for the rest of the field. Not elite runners maybe, but inspiring to me. Each and every one. And then two explosions rocked Boston near the finish line, and all I could do was watch in shock and horror. We had actually planned on being at the finish line yesterday, and if events had worked out as planned would have been. The news started to roll in about the dead and injured. The numbers kept climbing. And just like that I can barely breathe again.

April 15, 2013

Recent Reads

41. Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent
42. The Ant and the Elephant
43. Eli
My 8 year old nephew, Jonah, is really into Bill Peet at the moment. The kid stocks up every day on more books to read. So love that. He was over for a play date and brought three for us to read. These short stories are quite fun, and I do love the illustrations. Rating: 3 stars each.

44. The Dog Stars
Nine years after a deadly plague kills almost everyone, the world is as you might imagine it to be. We zoom into a town in Colorado and meet Hig, his dog Jasper, and the gun-toting Bangley. They have carved out a place of relative safety, and other than short flights (Hig is a pilot), and hunting trips into the nearby mountains, they are hunkered down. This is a different type of post-apocalyptic story, in that it is more a meditation on the loss, isolation, melancholy, and need for connection that plagues Hig. We spend a lot of time in his head.

I listened to the the audio book wonderfully narrated by Mark Deakins. The sentences are choppy, and often feel unfinished, or like you missed something, and Mark captured that sense of fragmentation really well. I really liked the first half of the book, but felt like the story dragged on for too long, and the last several chapters seemed rather rushed. While I enjoyed the lyrical writing, I was not sucked into the story, and you know there is a problem when as a cat person, I found the dog to be the most interesting character. Rating: 3 stars.

45. The Courage to Start: A Guide to Running for Your Life
I recently completed a 5K running program, and am currently obsessed with all things running. As a beginner runner, this book was just right - advice, lessons learned, motivation - perfect for reading in chunks while resting tired legs at night. It is the "What to Expect When You are Expecting" book for newbie runners. Rating: 4 stars.

April 14, 2013


My brother Sajan had by-pass surgery on Friday, and I am delighted that everything went well. Am so grateful for the wonders of modern medicine. He is already up and walking! So awesome. Thanks to all who reached out to my family.

April 11, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 14

This is week 14, and I continue to love this project. Highlights of the week include a hilarious afternoon with my nephews as they played with the wireless remote for my SLR, and a fun game night with friends. Also love the cute photo of my little brother, Sajan, whom I am holding close in my thoughts, as he is scheduled for by-pass surgery tomorrow. So scary, but he is in good spirits, and I am so grateful that his big heart has got him safely this far. As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the double spread:

Left side:

Right side:

Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Title background paper by Marisa.  Here is the story journaling card by MelissaFlowers by Jessica Sprague. Striped paper by Shabby Princess.

April 10, 2013

Short Story Salon

My friend Vanessa invited some friends over to her home for a short story salon a couple of weekends ago. I included the evening in my Project Life for the week. So much fun.

It turns out that Ann Kingman from BOTNS also blogged about the event, and she kept notes of what was read. How cool is that? You can read her post and see a pic of me reading my selection here.

April 9, 2013

Journal page

I like to sketch while I listen to podcasts, so I was delighted to learn that Danny Gregory has video interviews with some of the artists featured in his new book. Here is the quick sketch I made while he talked to Lapin.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Pen and watercolors. You can watch this interesting interview here.

April 8, 2013

Recent Reads

37. The Body
There was a time when I gobbled up everything King wrote. Then I took a break. Right around the time I gave up on IT. Decades went by without me curling up with a King story. I got slowly back into his stuff with Duma Key several years ago. Different, but still good. Then realized that the man has all these short stories I have yet to read. We've been slowly reading this one aloud in our home. A coming of age story that is deceptively simple, but it gets under your skin in a way only King can. I've ordered up the movie to watch again. And just like that I'm back on a Stephen King ride. Rating: 5 stars.

38. Where'd You Go, Bernadette
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I really liked the writing device used in the first three or four parts of the story, where we learn about events and people by reading emails, faxes, letters, etc. The events we learn about are often hilarious - I just knew how that bramble clearing was going to end, and the skewering of the Seattle one-percenters had its moments. On the whole though, I thought the story was rather sad. A workaholic, distant husband/father, a genius wife/mother who is clearly in need of therapy or medication, or both, and a smart eight grade daughter who lives with them. Yes, the various spats are amusing, but honestly, I could not get past the notion that both adults were raising a child, and living in a house that was falling apart, moldy, and really should have been deemed unfit for human habitation. They needed the gardener to weedwack inside the house. And they lived there for two decades! Rating: 3 stars.

39. The Amulet of Samarkand
It is interesting how so many books also have a graphic novel version these days. I loved this story in novel form, and have had fun discussing the series with my 9 year old nephew, but was not as thrilled with the graphic novel adaptation. It was a little like watching a movie, when the book is so much better. Rating: 2 stars.

40. Paris Was Ours
My book club selection this month was a collection of essays about Paris. Like most collections, this was a mixed bag. There were some (the final 3 or so) that I really liked, but overall, I was not thrilled to be reading it, and was relieved when it was over. Rating: 2 stars.

April 6, 2013

One Little Word 2013: April

As part of OLW, I'm pairing up my word with an intention for the month  and focusing on three goals. Here is the card I created for this month.

Flowers by Jessica Sprague. Striped paper by Shabby Princess.

April 5, 2013

One Little Word 2013: March Update

And just like that March is over, so time for a monthly status update. Remember these were my goals for the month:

And how did I do?

Goal #1: Weight training 3 times a week. I did that exactly zero times. Zero. What the heck happened? My plans changed. I decided to continue focusing on my running plan. Yes, I need to add strength training into the mix, but instead of beating myself up over this, have decided to let it be and move on. On the plus side, am stoked with my running progress.

Goal #2: Deepen relationships. Intangibles are hard to measure, and I knew that going in. How does one measure if I was successful here? It is so subjective, and I do think I made good headway. So my answer is YES.

Goal #3: Try something new. There are several things I tried for the first time this month. For example, a group of readers got together to read short stories aloud. I have never done that before, and it was fun.  Another example would be incorporating a foam roller into my stretching routine. The dividends have been incredible.

All in all, am quite proud of my efforts and accomplishments. I hope you had a great month as well. Let's see what April has in store.

April 4, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 13

This is week 13, and I continue to love this project. Highlights of the week include getting buggy back, playing with a new toy, and fun time with friends. As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the two page spread:

Left side:

Right side:

Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Title background paper by Jessica.  Textured card by Melissa. Stapled ribbon element by Shabby Princess. Info element by Michelle. Family card by LGBT News.

April 2, 2013

Journal page

I like to sketch while I listen to podcasts, so I was delighted to learn that Danny Gregory has video interviews with some of the artists featured in his new book. Here is the quick sketch I made while he talked to Liz Steel.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Pen and watercolors. You can watch this interesting interview here.