Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Our Nashville Road Trip

Our road trip to Nashville was an arduous one! We drove to Nashville in one day, visited with relatives for three days (including attending a high school graduation), and returned on the fifth day. About a fourteen hour drive (groan) from Houston, but with plenty of laughs along the way. We rented a van and all piled in together, which made for lots of family fun. Here are some of my photos from the trip.

We enjoyed walking around the Music District on a Saturday night with hundreds of other tourists, where the sounds of live music came pouring out of every other door we passed. I bet this particular signage and the statue of Elvis in front of one of the souvenir stores are among the most photographed images tourists shoot.

 We also visited the new Nashville Antique Archeology store, where it was a thrill to actually see some of the finds we saw Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz pick on their History Channel show, Pickers.

Since I can't post an actual photo of my wonderful niece, here is her self portrait, included in her kindergarten year notebook from USN (University School of Nashville).

Our nephew, Takuma Johnson, was part of a architectural design team awarded with the opportunity to build a structure for the Treehouse exhibit at Cheekwood Botanical Garden. His was the only team that included high school students! All the treehouses were related to works of literature. Seen from one side above, "Up and Down Again" is based on The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Takuma heads off to Cornell University this fall to study architecture.

 Everyone enjoyed the slide that was part of of the Up and Down Again structure.

It was hard for me to capture the whole Treehouse in one shot, partly because the site was mobbed with visitors. Here my brother-in-law Mike stands under an arch surveying one of the interesting nooks built into the structure, which was part playhouse/climbing structure/slide, part garden and also included a bridge. None of the houses were actually nailed to a tree, since that would have been destructive, but they all were sited near a tree. To quote from the Cheekwood brochure about the exhibit, "There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something." - from The Hobbit, 1937.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Three Year Retire-versary

Indulge me in a bit of personal reflection on my third anniversary of retirement from Harris County Public Library. This past weekend I enjoyed volunteering at the West University Library's Friends of the Library book sale. Just two hours or so of involvment with people and books, most specifically and especially, with former customers, was both fun and fulfilling. It made me realize what I miss most about my job is "what have you read lately?" chit-chat with fellow bibliophiles. Also, even though I was a library manager, I never minded shelving books, especially fiction, where every shelf invited memories of novels I once enjoyed. Just seeing their familiar spines spelled contentment. But am I longing to go back to work? No way. There's more than enough to do in my life to keep me 110% busy. My reach always seems to exceed my grasp.

Family, friends, making art, gardening, yoga, swimming, walking, biking, quilting, cooking, writing book reviews for Library Journal and facilitating a group called Creative Intentions on the Here Women Talk website, book group, fiber arts group, Sunday UU women's native American spirituality circle: these things form the foundation of my days. Sounds idyllic, but life is never 100% rainbows. My mother, who is 93, and still living semi-independently, directly and indirectly demands a lot of my attention. Just last week I returned from Long Island after visiting her and hiring a 24 hour live-in aide now needed to keep Mom safe at home. 

Because my life feels so busy, I had to cut back on my blogging frequency here at Speed of Light. Twice a month feels about right now. Just like when you are employed, even in retirement, life is a balancing act. I wish I could find more time to really commune with nature, especially rivers and oceans. My husband and I own a canoe that we hope to launch next month. Right now my best connection with nature comes through backyard gardening. We have Juliet, Yellow Pear and Homestead tomatoes coming in. There is always plenty to do in the yard, but I would love to see more of the American West. Someday I hope to cross all 50 states off my lifetime travel list. I also have hopes of becoming a labyrinth facilitator when I can afford the time and money to enroll in a Veriditas training course. For all my hopes and blessings, I am grateful. Staying fit is very important, as are friends, intellectual activities and so-called "down time", a commodity I always seem to be short of. And so it goes... L'chaim!

collage: Alive by KAO