Sunday, July 31, 2011

New England Trek, Part II: Connecticut

Hamden, Connecticut: Home of my dear friend and former mission companion, Ashlee Ard, and her sweet little family, including husband Jason, adorable daughter Lily, and her mom was in town for a few weeks to visit them.

Though my visit was short (probably a grand total of about 36 hours), it was wonderful to get to see Ashlee again, and especially to meet these other people who mean so much to her.

While there, we did manage to pack in a couple of adventures:
Here is the charming French bistro/used bookstore where we had a delicious lunch! (Sadly, I cannot remember the name of the place, but it was fantastic!)

A view of the heavy rain outside while sitting inside, eating lunch.

After a tasty meal (which included some delicious iced hot chocolate!), we headed to an art museum that featured American art. Here are some of my favorites from that excursion:

An amazing glass chandelier sculpture by Dale Chihuly--I especially loved the intensity of the blue!

This was an incredible, wonderfully colorful wall sculpture made of plastic cups! And can you see the Chihuly peeking out in the corner there?
(I sadly cannot recall the name of this artist...)

Colorado Waterfalls, by Albert Bierstadt

Return of the Gods, by Thomas McKnight
(This picture doesn't really do it justice...)

This is a Jackson Pollack I can actually get behind. It was surprisingly tiny, and I just like the form and color better than what I've seen of his other work. (To be fair, I haven't seen any of his other stuff in real life, and I'm told the size is what makes his slopped-paint works so impressive...).
It was also interesting to learn that Pollack worked closely with famed Missourian painter, Thomas Hart Benton, and even babysat for him on occasion. This painting, called T.P.'s Boat in Menemsha Pond, was actually painted for Benton's son, Thomas P. Benton.

There were also several wonderful Thomas Hart Benton murals in the gallery, too large to really capture with my camera (which is why they are unpictured here). All in all, it was a delightful artistic experience for all of us (including Lily, who behaved wonderfully the entire time we were there...)

And finally, here I am (on the right, obviously), pictured with my wonderful, amazing friend, Ashlee, and her beautiful daughter.

Thanks, dear lady, for such a magnificent day!

(Next week: New England Trek, Part III: Rhode Island Tidbits)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Decisions, Decisions...

We interrupt the "New England Trek" series for the following:

An uncertain future is a scary thing. Especially with so many unknowns- where to live, where to work, how to earn enough income to provide for the basic human needs... Right now, my biggest fear/concern is what will I do when my benefits from IPS run out in early August? How will I pay for the medicines I need to keep my diabetes under control? Yes, things are getting scary around here.

Some of you may know that I recently applied for a job working in the Columbia Public Schools as a Media Center clerk, assisting with the woman who runs the Media Center at Oakland Junior High School.

I did not get hired.

Onto Plan B, right?

Which is: find a way to move to Syracuse, NY.

I have gone and visited all of my top-choice schools (and some of my secondary choices, too), and I have decided that Syracuse University is really my top pick, with the University of Washington (in Seattle) coming in a close second. I was impressed with what both programs had to offer academically and professionally, I felt very welcomed and accepted by the people I spoke to, I liked the beautiful campuses of both schools (UW has an especially fantastic view of Mt. Rainier!), and I really liked the communities and surrounding areas (well, I didn't like the Seattle traffic so much...).

That being said, while I know I would love living in Seattle, despite the traffic, I felt more strongly that Syracuse is where I believe I'm supposed to be. It just felt so right. I absolutely love how charming and scenic upstate New York is, and it seemed like the right place for me to go.

I'm still scared.

There is still so much uncertainty that I am scared. But plunge I must into that uncertainty, and plunge I will... I don't know how soon, but the sooner the better. As soon as I can find a place to live, as soon as I can get all my stuff/junk packed, as soon as I can find a time when my parents can help me drive all my stuff out there... As soon as I can.

It's scary, but I believe it's right.

(Next week: New England Trek: Part II - Connecticut)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

New England Trek, Part I: Washington, D.C.

June 20-22


*Getting to see my friend, Katie.
*Touring the Capitol building- seriously, I love that building- SO beautiful! I got so many pictures of it from almost every angle, I couldn't seem to stop. (I tried to share the ones I thought were the best...)

(Exterior and The Rotunda)

(Left: The monorail we took from the Senate building to the Capitol;
Right: A beautiful mosaic on the Senate side of the Capitol)
*While touring the Capitol under the knowledgeable guidance of my friend, we got to see several senators in passing, including Senator Hatch from Utah!

*Getting to see the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution- very humbling to be in the presence of those inspired documents, especially knowing that our Founding Fathers at one point were also in the same room as the documents.

*Washington Monument- I especially enjoyed getting to know our First President better- and am even more impressed with the kind of man he was.

(View of the White House from the Washington Monument)

*Museum of Natural History- The live butterfly exhibit was cool! The Hope Diamond- rather disappointing.

*Museum of American History- Not only was it neat to see the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner," I also loved getting to see one of the original Kermit puppets, The Ruby Slippers, gorgeously decorated Stradivarius instruments, a baseball signed by Lou Gehrig, and, oh yeah, some amazing dresses of the First Ladies.

*The National Gallery- I wish I'd had so much more time to spend here; there simply wasn't enough time to see all that I wanted to see. Here were some of my favorites:

(A mostly 2-dimensional house sculpture that looks completely 3-D from almost any angle;
Roy Lichtenstein)

(The only Da Vinci in the Western Hemisphere- Ginevra de' Benci)

(The Blank Signature, by one of my favorite surrealists, Rene Magritte)

(The Sacrament of the Last Supper, by Salvador Dali- this was a delightfully unexpected discovery that I found as I turned a corner to get a drink of water at a water fountain.)

*Getting to watch The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on the big screen was also a fantastic part of this leg of the journey, since I was on my mission when it originally came out...

So, despite not having enough time to extensively see all I had wanted see, (and despite horrendous traffic!), I had an absolutely fantastic time in D.C.!

(The Castle, the main administrative building for the Smithsonian Institution)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I'm not dead yet...

Yeah, I just wanted to let you all know that I WILL eventually post pictures of my insane summer of traveling (and I will do it in small chunks with highlights to make life easier for you and for me).

But not now.