Gift #684: Treasure at a bookstore

On one of my recent trips to Zionsville, I stopped in at the local book store, Black Dog Books.  The store is named for the owner’s pet dog, who sadly passed away two years ago, but a new black lab has taken up residence and likes to get head pats from the customers.  The owner has a very nice selection of used, new, and collectible books and I enjoy browsing the garden and nature sections.  This time I was amazed to find a huge collection of books by Indiana authors.  They were all from a private library, which I guess had passed into the shop owner’s hands via a donation or estate sale.  It was sad to see someone’s treasures for sale.  It was obvious the individuals had put a great deal of thought and love in their books.  All were in impeccable condition and many were first editions.  I held in my hand the most expensive book I have ever held – priced at over $700 for a 1st edition Gene Stratton Porter volume.  I have a long history with Gene Stratton Porter, having watched film versions of some of her novels as a child.  When I moved to Indy, I visited museums and exhibits to learn more about her.  She was an amazing naturalist, ornithologist, conservationist, and authoress.   The covers of the books were stunningly beautiful.  Here are two of her works on birds.

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The collection also included a complete collection of the works of Lew Wallace and his wife.  Did you know that his wife was also a published authoress?  There were at least 5 copies of Ben Hur, including a first edition.  I liked the cover of this one best.

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There were books written by Booth Tarkington and others and there was a separate table for all the books on Indiana history.  My favorite from that table was a book written in the 1920s about the history of Crown Hill Cemetery, a place I love dearly.  It was incredible to see such a collection of local history and art all in one place and to hold these treasures.  I like to purchase old books because I feel it connects me to those of past generations who loved and prized the same things I do.  I hold the books in trust for them – caring and preserving them for the original owners who can no longer do so.  Though  I couldn’t afford any of these books, it was special just to feel a connection by holding them and imagining how their previous owners had cherished them.  I hope that they find a special home.  It would be very nice for them to be housed together in a museum display or in a research library so they could continue to give enjoyment for years to come.

Blessings to you,
Sarah

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Gift #683: Summer dinner

Today I thought that I’d share one of my favorite summertime meals.  It is quick and easy to make and is perfect for warm summer days of alfresco dining.  After an unusually cool summer, we’ve had a surge in hot, humid weather so it feels much more like the appropriate season now.  I start by cooking pasta – I like fettuccine, but any type of pasta would work just fine.  Bow tie pasta would be pretty.  While the pasta is cooking, I prepare my veggies – this is my favorite part.  I love this meal because it makes good use of whatever you might have on hand.  Any veggies are well suited.  Tonight I used red and green peppers, broccoli, onion, carrots, and tomatoes.

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I sautéed the onion, carrots, and broccoli for just a few minutes in olive oil and used the other veggies raw.  Once the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pot and coat with a couple heaping spoonfuls of pesto.  Add in the veggies and sprinkle a bit of parmesan cheese.  I rounded out dinner with a salad and some garlic bread.  Yum!  And leftovers are good either warm or cold.

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Enjoy a wonderful holiday weekend!

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #682: Hidden treasure

This evening I went to Chipotle for dinner and on the way in I admired the roses planted at the entrance.  Actually, I was admiring the rose hips, not the flowers, but then I’m a strange girl.  I was thinking about how pretty the remnants of the sepals were without the flower there.  They were opened into a perfect star shape and I thought they might be nice for preserving and using in an art project.  On the way out I stopped by for a closer look and picked a few.  Underneath the rosebush was a treasure hiding – a perfect little stand of mushrooms.  It’s been so long since I’ve seen a mushroom!  These were in their prime and snowy white – they were a lovely surprise.  And I would have missed them completely if I hadn’t stopped to examine the roses.  So, moral (or perhaps morrel? Ha!) of the day – you should always take time to stop and smell the roses, because you never know when a mushroom might turn up!

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #681: Family Celebrations

I haven’t blogged for a while because I’ve been enjoying some family time with my brother and his family in Texas.  It’s been since Christmas since I’ve seen them and it was wonderful to spend time with them again.  We also celebrated birthdays while we were all together.  August is a busy month because it’s my dad’s birthday and then my nephew’s birthday is the day after!  He turned one just a few days ago and my brother and sister-in-law hosted a party for him.  We were all able to help out a bit with preparations and that was lots of fun.  My nephew tasted his first cake, played with lots of presents, and was very excited about the party and all the people.  He had a Mickey Mouse themed party, complete with custom made t-shirt, which was too cute for me not to share with you.

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One of my sister-in-law’s friends made it for him.  Isn’t it adorable?

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And here was the cake for his birthday.  I love that the creator wrote out the sentiment with a script like that of Walt Disney.  And she made the Mickey Mouse cake toppers out of foam so that they would last as a reminder of his big day.

I knit him 5 pairs of socks and a matching beanie hat.  It was  happy coincidence that they matched in color to the theme of the party.  And yes,  I did give him some toys too – I’m not so incredibly heartless and out-of -touch with childhood as to forget children like toys better than clothes.

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However, the best present given or received during the week was the time and love shared with my family.  I hope as we look back on our memories and photos of the celebration that we will remember that it is love given and received that fills our lives with joy.

Blessings to you,
Sarah

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Gift #680: Spring Grove Cemetery

As promised, today I’ll share some pictures of Spring Grove Cemetery.  This is actually the second post I’ve written today.   I liked the first post a great deal, but didn’t quite feel it was the right time to share it, so I think I will store it away until a more appropriate time and in the meantime I will share my two of my favorite places in the cemetery with you.

The first is of Cedar Lake.  This picturesque area is one of several lakes on the grounds.  It is not the largest, but it is one of the most peaceful, as it is surrounded by a grove of cypress trees.  I love to take pictures of the knobby roots sticking up from the ground.

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Geese like it too.  And it offers a beautiful view across the lake of the nearby monuments.

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The Dexter Chapel and Mausoleum may be the most dramatic feature of the cemetery.  Built in 1870, the Gothic-styled chapel was intended as the final resting place for the Dexter family.  At the time of its construction, this was the only building in Cincinnati to boast flying buttresses.

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The chapel was never completed, and services were never held here, as was the original intent.  The sandstone exterior is worn and yielding to the elements of nature.  A large spire has broken off somewhere in time, and moss and ferns decorate the window frames.  All this adds to the beauty of this monument that connects the lives of the past with those of the present.

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I love this chapel so much.  Every time that I see it, I’m overcome by its power to evoke such feeling in my soul.  I’m lost somewhere in time as I stand in its shadow  – I hover on the edges of melancholy and longing – not sure if my feet stand on earth or heaven.  I wonder if that might not be the unspoken desire of the monument; to blur the barriers between worlds that sight and time have separated.  Here in this space the boundaries seem to overlap again and it is holy ground.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

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Gift #679: Cincinnati Museum part 2

Today we’ll take a brief tour of the Natural History portion of the Cincinnati Museum complex.  This section of the museum does a nice job of appealing to children with lots hands-on and experiential displays, as well as being thoughtful and enjoyable for adults too.  Of course there is the prerequisite collection of dinosaur and prehistoric bones.

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This one is a cast of a mastodon found nearby.  There’s an extensive walk-through exhibit of “prehistoric history” – doesn’t that sound like an oxymoron?  It’s quite engaging, with lovely dioramas and life-size animals and lots to see.  At the end of the exhibit is a section on weather and geography – how it has changed through time and the methods used to study it.   Another exhibit I thought was very interesting was a series of dioramas that interactively explained the scientific method and how researchers studied the natural world and archeological digs.

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One of the most unique sections of the museum was a “Trading Post” area where visitors could see natural history specimens up close.  There were bins and bins of rocks, minerals, fossils – all labeled and carefully sorted.  There were biological cabinets of bird specimens and feather collections.  There was a nice library of sorts for children to enjoy.  And there was a counter where kids could bring in items they’d found and exchange them for other natural treasures.  As they did so, the employee would talk to them about what they found, how it was collected, and so on.  No animals were allowed, but they could bring in feathers, bones, sticks, leaves, spider webs.. all sorts of goodies.  That sounded like lots of fun.  The picture of the curiosity cabinet above was in this area.

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Then there were rocks… lots and lots of rocks… including a moon rock brought back by Neil Armstrong.  His space suit was there too.  I’m enjoying a resurgence in my love of rocks and especially enjoyed those exhibits.  They have a nice selection of rocks in their store for purchase and I bought a beautiful geode.

I didn’t get any pictures of this, but the last highlight to tell you about is a live bat demonstration that they offer at the museum.  This was really fun – a trainer released 6 bats in a netted enclosure and we got to watch the bats move about while hearing a lecture about the different types of bats (in the Midwest and worldwide).  The bats were really cute!  They scurried about on the nets and one in particular kept making a beeline for a dark corner, but the trainer kept thwarting his desire.  It was fun to watch him.

I hope you enjoyed the overview of the natural history museum.  If you ever find yourself in the area, it’s a great way to spend the day.

Blessings to you,
Sarah

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Gift #678: Cincinnati Railroad

At the end of a very long week, I’m having a bit of trouble pulling my thoughts together.  I realized that I haven’t shared much from the recent trip to Cincinnati so for the next couple of days I’ll post of some of the experiences we had and beautiful places we visited.  On this trip, we decided to spend one day at the Cinci museum.  We had been there a few years ago when the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit came through but on that visit we didn’t have time to see the permanent exhibits.  It is a lovely museum, housed in the old Union Terminal.  There are technically three museums – a natural history wing, a Cincinnati history wing, and a children’s museum – and they have a theater.  So there was lots to see!  We will need to go back because we were rather rushed at the end.

Today I wanted to share with you some photos from the history side of the museum.  One of their main exhibits is a large railroad model of Cincinnati.  It is the largest “S” gauge model in the world and it takes up an entire room!  The center model is of downtown in the 1940s.

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The lights are on a 5 min cycle to mimic daylight and dusk over the city.  A ramp goes around this exhibit and flanking the walls of the room are models of various suburbs of the city.  At each section of the model is a touch screen computer that gives you information about the key points of interest.  This in itself would take an entire day to get through.  There were menus for architecture, history, religion, arts, and entertainment.  It was fascinating to learn about the places we had seen and admired on previous trips – and I loved the time-frame that they focused on from the 1920s-40s.

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This is of Mt. Adams.  The lighting made it difficult to get a good picture.  You may be able to see a long railway scaling the hill in the right side of the picture.  These were called inclines and there were 5 scattered about the city.  Railway cars would sit on a platform which would move up or down the tracks, enabling transportation to and from the hills.  These inclines made settlement in the hills possible and they became effluent neighborhoods of the wealthy citizens eager to escape the noise and pollution of the city.  They functioned from the 1920s until they were dismantled in the 1950s.

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Here’s the Cincinnati Zoo.  My family and I have made several trips here.  Though not in a good area of town, the zoo itself is a beautifully landscaped haven.  It is state of the art, but manages to retain the charm of the past.  It was here that the last passenger pigeon died and there is a memorial to Martha here.

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And this is Spring Grove – the cemetery that we love so much in Cinci.  This is the main entrance with a tourist car approaching.  It was a popular destination for the residents to enjoy picnic lunches and stroll the grounds.  Adolph Strauch, designed the cemetery with a “lawn plan” to mimic parks throughout the eastern US and Europe.  I’ll share pictures from our visit there soon.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of the Cincinnati model.  I do apologize for the quality of some of the pictures.  The low lighting and glare on the glass made photography a challenge, especially when using the ipad for pictures.  Have a great weekend!

Blessings to you,
Sarah

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