Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I'm off to the northern reaches of Minnesota to visit the family. It's been nearly four years (!) since I was last there, so I'm excited to go back. In celebration, I'm posting some of my favorite pictures from the last time I visited in September 2004. Most of these are from our drives north of Duluth along the shore of Superior. I am guessing it will be way too freezing cold for that to happen and most of our time will be centered around the casino (!) we're staying in, but still. :)Have a great Thanksgiving and avoid the turkey sleepiness.

Writing on the rocks of Sugarloaf Cove, this awesome abandoned log mill site. You can't tell from this picture, but the rocks there are crazy--unlike any of the other rocks along the shore. They're big, smooth, boulder-like and made from seemingly all different natural backgrounds. It's almost like a glacier dumped them there and the cove protected them from getting broken up over the years.

Rock-pickin'! :)

This was the view from my grandparents' cabin up on the Gunflint Trail. Basically, I had this love-hate relationship with that water. I loved it, but in really small doses and without the fish and not while in the canoe either... :)


Monday, November 17, 2008

Quel imagination!

Oh, my, god. Seriously. I need to find myself a French child somewhere.

Once upon a time... from Capucha on Vimeo.


Now you know

I am currently writing a blog post for my “real job” that includes a product from Hammacher Schlemmer. So I’m here just posting to say I never really paid attention to the second of those two German surnames. In my mind, it was always Hammacher Schmeh-mumble-mumble. I guess we grow up in all sorts of ways. Posted for your consideration, their Marshmallow Shooter.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Historication: My Bucket List

When my friends and I get on the topic of family vacations, many of them wax poetic on their trips to the beach or Disneyland. Once it's my turn to chime in, I usually offer up something like, "I had a really good time when the power went out at Martin Van Buren's home in Kinderhook, New York," or, "Have I ever told you the one about how I got kicked out of the Rockefeller home for dropping rocks in the stairwell? GET IT? Rocks? Rockefeller?!" I usually then dissolve into a fit of giggles and my companions probably second-guess their judgment in befriending me.

My family's historically-slanted vacations brought me to more tours of historic homes, battlefields, cemeteries and villages than I could count. From Jamestown to Hyannis Port, I've traveled the east coast and beyond with my family, taking my fill of reenactors, historic markers and velvet-roped house tours.

Maybe to outsiders, my childhood seems a little bit warped. I had a penchant for those fluffy white colonial hats women in Williamsburg wore. (See G. Family albums for photographic evidence.) My American Girl doll Samantha and I wore matching outfits while visiting Biltmore, and my Princess Barbie dream bedroom was Alice Claypoole Gwynne Vanderbilt's oval seafront bedroom at the Breakers estate in Newport, RI. I also distinctly recall deriving serious joy from a hoop and stick in a motel parking lot.

Before my junior year of high school, my family took a trip to Gettysburg and Antietam that lives vividly in my mind today. After junior year, we hit up Emily Dickinson's home in Amherst where I took a photo of myself with a pizza box, which was a nerdy joke between my English teacher Mrs. Powell and I. Two years ago we spent my mom's birthday at the living history Pleasant Hill Shaker Village where some of the old Shaker family dwellings have been converted into individual hotel suites (with, I might add, the best TempurPedic cushy beds you'll ever sleep on).

I loved these vacations, even the ones where we spent significant time in the icy March Midwestern winds visiting ancestral grave sites. Maybe it’s the fall air or the political mood I’ve been in lately (you may have noticed that I’ve had politics and history on the brain), but I haven’t been able to stop considering all the little history vacation hot stops I’d love to make if I could get away right now. For your consideration, I’ve compiled a few below. Anywhere else I should keep in mind for future nerdy getaways?

The Mount: Edith Wharton’s Estate
I may or may not be a huge fan of The Age of Innocence. We’ll let that lie and just say that I’d love to visit Wharton’s home where she did a lot her writing. Even better is the fact she designed the home herself. How awesome is that? The Mount is facing foreclosure, however, so I hope that this spot makes it through these hard times. [http://www.edithwharton.org/]

Like I said, I’ve already visited the Biltmore estate while wearing this dress, but whatever. I wanna go again. This time, maybe without wearing that dress. This place is freaking awesome, and it was just a SUMMER HOME. A 175,000 sq. ft., 255-room SUMMER HOME with grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. No biggie.[http://www.biltmore.com/]

Abraham Lincoln Presidential
Library and Museum
It is a travesty I live in Lincoln’s state and have not visited the Lincoln Museum in Springfield. This trip is on my short list because I think I should be able to make it down in a day. Of course, if I do go, I am absolutely positively visiting the Lincoln home and tomb. I will probably cry while I’m there cause that’s what I’ve been doing lately whenever anyone brings Lincoln up to me. (I’m talking to you, Obama!)

Hearst Castle
I have only been to California once, but if I can make it out there again and be anywhere near San Simeon, I’m going to Hearst Castle. One of my friends told me it’s like being in a haunted, abandoned, lonely place, and I think that sounds fantastic. I can also fantasize about Cary Grant swimming in the pool here. [http://www.hearstcastle.org/]

National Archives
Heaven is a place on earth, and it’s here in Washington, D.C. I really can’t explain it, but this place has been on my mind a lot lately. I’m itching to get back there and just soak in as much smelly, moldy paper as possible. [http://www.archives.org]


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I was there when we made history

I was lucky enough to receive tickets to go to Obama’s Election Night rally in Grant Park last night. The experience for me was surreal and overwhelmingly emotional. I felt lucky—not just to be at the front lines of this historic moment but also to be a part of a country like ours.

I spent the first part of the rally ecstatic, pumping my fist against my chest whenever Ohio’s results were pulled up on the Jumbotron and screaming, “THAT’S MY STATE!!” When CNN finally project Ohio for Obama, though, I felt quieter, calmer. It was as if I finally was allowing myself to believe that this could happen. I had made calls to my hometown in hopes to help Obama win, and while I got hung up on and sneered at a few times, I also talked with undecided voters who were truly concerned about our country and who seemed to lean Democratic by the time we finished talking, with Republicans who were voting for both a black man and a Democrat for the first time in their lives, and with other Democrats who were making calls themselves and who had voted in the early Ohio voting.

Here it was, Ohio’s electoral votes going to Obama, and I felt the pulse of the crowd against me and the rush of screams around me but I was floating outside of myself, completely peaceful.

By the time Obama’s rally was pumping celebratory music and playing a video montage that played on the emotions of a proud American, I was—like everybody else it seems—in tears. I replayed in my mind the last eight years of my life and all that has changed and imagined what changes will happen for me now—hopefully, for better this time.

But it was Obama’s speech, the full text of which is available here, which most resonated with me. In the last few months, I’ve been reading up a lot lately on Lincoln and feeling some strong emotions about our sixteenth president, so when Obama said the following, he truly touched me:

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House -- a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn -- I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

Coming from such a conservative area, I know full well that there will be people who will never accept Barack Obama. That’s fine. But the important thing is that for those of us who believe in him, and those who might come to believe in him too, Obama represents a true shift away from that petty partisanship and negativity that has so sharply pitched liberal against conservative in the last eight years.

It would be disingenous of me if I didn’t mention that I wasn’t always such an Obama supporter, as evidenced even by this blog. But as the other candidates fell away and Obama’s policies took stronger form, I became one of his believers. Standing and cheering among his other supporters last night, I could begin to imagine a better America where our rights and freedoms are not stripped from us and we are given the freedom and benefits we deserve. I am so proud and just wanted to share.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Update

When the Pygmalion Sarah Palin was unveiled back in August, I was still back in Denver, glowing happily from the Democratic National Convention. I couldn’t help but notice Palin’s side-swept brunette bangs and rimless eyeglasses, both of which I wear or own, and felt the call to Halloween action.

Of course, the Dressing Up as Sarah Palin for Halloween Express was bound to be one big trainwreck with just about everybody from Tickety-Tack Trannies to Joe Six Packs donning their own Palin get-ups for the evening.

So I decided to try something different, and this is what I came up with: Sarah Palin’s Forbidden Romance / Mr. Moose Whisks Sarah Palin Away. It involved a whole crapload of brown fleece, several trips to Jo-Ann Fabrics and at least one tantrum that involved foam and PVC pipe which we will not get into now.

Not exactly easy to maneuver in, but I had a fun time throughout the evening hanging out with friends at a few parties, taking photos with other bar-goers, and defending myself from crazy, crazy people who hate Sarah Palin so much they were willing to attack her Halloween doppelganger while screaming “I’M GOING TO KILL YOU.” To each is own, I guess.

Also see below for my #1 Halloween companion, Wall Street. :)