Friday, March 30, 2012

Australia postcard

Australia postcard, originally uploaded by authorwannabe.

Off to Oz now! See everyone in 3 weeks!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cindy at Corn Rows

Cindy at Corn Rows, originally uploaded by authorwannabe.

Best Things in and around Columbus

The Krema Nut Company - they have the absolute best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches around! I also sampled some of their candy, and that was tasty as well. Purchased, but haven't yet tried the peanut butter ice cream, but I have high hopes.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams - Where else can you enjoy quirky flavors like Queen City Cayenne or Wildberry Lavender? Of course they always allow you to sample them before committing yourself to a whole scoop, but I've rarely ever been disappointed. I even bought half a dozen pints to share at Christmas. Polished off the final one last week!

Matt the Miller Tavern - Having been there for two different meals, I can tell you that both their Sunday brunch and their regular dinner choices, as well as their wine selection are top notch, not to mention the friendly service. Our waiter even remembered us, though it had only been a couple weeks since our last visit. A bit awkward to get to being so well-hidden off Perimeter Loop in Dublin, but once you find the secret way in and out, you're good to go!

The Corn Rows and Chief Leatherlips - you've got to love Ohio oddities, and we have two of the best, both of which you can enjoy a picnic and sometimes a live concert nearby.

WOSU & WCBE - Some cities are lucky enough to have just one public radio station, but Columbus is blessed with three - 89.7 News, Classical 101 (both WOSU), and 90.5 (WCBE). Of course there is some overlap with the same programs being aired on different stations at different times (over saturation), but that's okay if you miss it the first time around. I am especially grateful we have Classical 101 to satisfy those of us who prefer music only to news and other programs sometimes.

The Columbus Metropolitan Library and all its branches - I'm not sure how many volumes the system owns as a whole, but it's got to be close to a million. I've rarely (except some foreign titles) been unable to find a book I'm after, which saves me lots of $$$ being able to borrow it. Too bad they can't afford more digital licenses so there's not such a long wait to borrow the digital version of a book. That may come with time I suppose...

Sophie Ryder's Dancing Hares and the Splash Park in Dublin. Kids and adults alike can have hours of fun examining all the various objects embedded in the over-sized sculptures. Can't beat ducking in and out of the fountains during the summer - free fun for the whole family, and several covered tables to eat your lunch at while the kids play or you read a book on your lunch hour away from work.

Franklin Park Conservatory - This beautiful oasis, enhanced even more with the addition of all the fabulous Chihuly glass, is first class and right up there with the conservatory in Pittsburgh, Washington D.C. and several others I've visited around the world. Nature lovers, gardeners, photographers and the like will all find something worthy of appreciation in this little slice of paradise. Their cafe and adjoining gift shop are also worth visiting.

Columbus Topiary Park - I've never seen anything quite like this (with the exception of Disney properties), and it's fun to visit during any season. Having lived in Columbus for several years now and having visited multiple times, I am enjoying seeing the foliage fill in around their metal frames little by little. For those who don't know, all the topiaries are arranged to depict George Seurat’s painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte.

The outdoor summer concert series on the lawn of the Chemical Abstracts property. I've only ever attended one concert, but thoroughly enjoyed it (except for feeling like I had to burst on the way home). The sound system was good and I appreciated the fact that they have screens so you can see the performers on that even if you can't actually see the stage. I also like how you can bring food and drinks onto the property. Nothing better than a picnic under the stars while enjoying a little music!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Well, it's that time of year again. The one day a year when all things green doesn't refer to environmentally friendly. Even though you don't need to be Irish to celebrate, I'm always envious of those who are, whether they're Irish American or actual Irish born. This is their day. They can celebrate with reckless abandon - the rest of us be damned.

It's funny how in America a lot of people assume those with ginger (red) hair are Irish. I've been to Ireland. Not a single one has hair that color, at least not naturally. In fact, the real Irish people are mostly brunettes.

Ireland isn't called the Emerald Isle for nothing. It's green because it rains there a lot. I think it rained every single day I was there (18 yrs ago), but it didn't rain all day every day. In fact, I even remember the sun coming out sometimes.

Still, it's a beautiful, peaceful country, and you won't find friendlier people anywhere. My pen pal, whom I met when I visited, is one of such people, as were his parents who were surprised and proud of me (I think) that I was traveling alone (24 and just out of college). Even though the signs were in English and Gaelic, it wasn't too difficult to find your way around. Plus, I had everything planned out well in advance, so I was leaving very little to chance.

Besides meeting my pen pal and going out with him, a few other memories come to mind - like seeing the cottage where J. Bruce Ismay (the owner of the Titanic) supposedly lived out his last days; having the best meatloaf dinner in a pub with boiled potatoes and carrots. I was so cold and hungry that it really hit the spot. Too bad Ireland lost their World Cup match that evening. I remember spending several days in Connemara. As it was kind of wet and cold, I wasn't very motivated to do much, so spent most of my time hanging out at the youth hostel with the other 'yanks,' including one who had gotten a job there apparently. I met a lot of nice travelers including a nice Australian girl (who was bumming around for about 9 mos I think) and a trio of German girls who followed me from town to town. Not so sure it was friendship as much as a translator they were looking for.

Back to 2012...

Tonight while listening to the Pogues, I made Guiness bread using a dry packet mixture purchased at World Market. I wore a green shirt today and may or may not wear it again tomorrow. Not planning on going downtown for the parade. I'm not much for crowds and parades that may or may not be lame (like most of the small town ones I've attended). I'm also getting my hair colored tomorrow, but think I'll stick with my traditional brown and skip the green streaks.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close poster

March 12, 2012

Today is a rather grim anniversary for many. Not only is it the one year anniversary of the tsunami that wiped out quite a lot of Japan, but it is 10 ½ years since the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001.

With the beautiful warm and sunny weather we're experiencing today (at least in Central Ohio) it's rather difficult (at least for those of us who didn't lose anyone in either tragedy) to feel the sorrow that so many are probably experiencing.

On Friday evening while doing a bit of channel surfing I came across a documentary on National Geographic showing actual footage of the tsunami – both before and after. Having seen video of the tsunami which hit Thailand and other nearby countries, I thought I'd know what to expect, but it still took me very much by surprise. I had always assumed a tsunami was a tall wave with a curl surfers only dream about (much like in the famous Japanese painting). However, the wave doesn't have to be tall to be destructive. It's the speed of the tide as much as anything. It didn't seem like the Japanese had much warning, which may explain why there's still 20,000+ people missing today.

Today my husband showed me a video which demonstrates all the seismic activity in Japan last year continuing to present day I think. Each earthquake is illustrated by a round blip ranging in size depending on the magnitude of the quake. Although the seismic activity was always high, it's only as it gets closer to March 11 that the blips suddenly start hitting the screen with a frenzy not unlike that of paintballs hitting an ill-fated victim out on the field. This continues for several months before finally tapering off.

Going back to the anniversary of September 11, I didn't do anything on the 10th anniversary as it fell on a weekend, and I don't think the weather was very agreeable then. The town where I live, Hilliard, had a special dedication ceremony in their newly created First Responders Park, which contains a flag pole and several pieces of the World Trade Center. I'm not aware there were actually any victims from Hilliard, but the mayor always has to try and top everyone else, so this is where our tax dollars go.

On the actual day it happened, 10½ years ago, like most people, I was at work, but had just come back from lunch about an hour or so before (living in England, we were on GMT) it happened. My office mate and I were alerted to the events by a co-worker whose wife caught them live on television. We were fed several e-mails in rapid succession, and I'm sure there was some discussion about it, but basically we continued working and then went home at our normal time. Of course I turned on the telly, which is when I saw the true extent of the damage. It was only when I saw images of people jumping from the towers that I broke down and cried. I remember later talking to my parents about it. My mother was so distressed that she accidentally backed into someone's car in the parking lot where she works (but no major damage done). I probably talked to my in-laws that night too, and maybe my uncle in California too. I can't remember. My husband was supposed to have some sort of a work do that evening, but it was cancelled in light of the day's events. The most touching event came at the end of the week when my company (the dozen or so of us) went upstairs to the library/conference room for the 2 minutes of silence being observed country-wide. I was a little teary-eyed by the sympathy my co-workers showed for me that week, an act of solidarity I will never forget.

The day of the tsunami, last year, I heard about it over breakfast while listening to NPR. When I got to work I saw some videos online, and just kept checking back periodically to see the extent of the destruction. Later my husband and I made a donation to the American Red Cross and I bought a t-shirt for charity with a picture of Japan on it with the date and a red circle where the epicenter was.