Ol’ Sturbridge Village: A New England Staple

osv1osv2osv3osv4osv5osv6osv7osv8osv9Hey blog family. What’s up? What’s been happening? How was your January? Mine was cold. We got our electric bill yesterday and my, my, that number was higher than expected! It’s pretty chilly out there, folks. These pictures are from back in November, when snow still felt exciting and Thanksgiving spirit was all around. I took Flo, my Dutch roommate, up to Connecticut with me for the holiday and had a German friend from Boston come down. My usual Connecticut habits of watching too much HBO and baking up a storm were not going to cut it here, no sir… we needed to do something entertaining… we needed to do something American… we needed to go to Old Sturbridge Village!

Old Sturbridge Village, for those of you that didn’t grow up in Massachusetts or Connecticut where it seems like everyone and their mother paid a visit to OSV at some point during their childhood, is a living history museum that replicates colonial life in New England. Not only do they replicate colonial life in New England, they replicate it YEAR ROUND, so on cold, snowy days like the last few they’ve had up north, all of the people who work there are dressing in period clothing and heading out to entertain the visitors. So, in a word… it is GREAT.

There wasn’t as much going on while we were there as there is in the summer; outdoor activities become null and void when there are giant, muddy puddles where all of the presentation grounds are supposed to be. The structures are the best part of the experience, as many of them are period houses and buildings moved from all over New England onto the site. My favorite “business” that we visited was the local potter, where you tugged open a massive wooden door to enter a dimly lit room where some guy was cranking away at a potter’s wheel that was turned using his foot. Along the wall were rows and rows of cups, bowls, pitchers, and plates drying and waiting to be glazed, all of which are slated to be sold in their extensive and not-as-kitschy-as-expected gift shop. Several of the houses had people inside answering questions, and one had a few large pots of food, including pie, leftover from a colonial Thanksgiving celebration they had done the day before.

What a contrast visiting the village was to DC- sometimes it’s nice to just poke around outside, see some farm animals, and think about how tough life was back in the old days. Old Sturbridge Village was a good preview of another historic site that’s on my list for this spring- Mount Vernon, the home of the big man himself, George Washington. But until it warms up, I’m going to stick with catching up on the Americans (which is making me consider learning Russian) and working away on a new quilt (another that I just finished will be up on the blog soon). Happy Wednesday!

Music Mondays: Wir waren hier by CRO

Ich bin hier und jetzt kann kommen was will…

Welcome to the new year! A little late to the party, but here I am. January has been a month of slumber and concentration punctuated by joy and anticipation for all of the adventures ahead. Are you ready? I’ve been listening to lots of CRO lately. He’s a German artist who wears a panda mask all the time, which is obviously great. Check it out.

2014: A year of transition.

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Downtown Denver, January 2014.

“This above all: To thine own self be true.” -Shakespeare

Hello, friends. It seems like every time I come back to this space, I feel like I need to explain my most recent lengthy absence from the blogosphere. But then I look back, and it’s been this way for months- brief check-ins, small updates. A few photos here and there. I think about all the things that have happened this year and it feels like none of them are on the blog. A lot of the major events for me weren’t really physical, so there weren’t any pictures.There’s no pictures of the sinking feeling as I got back polite but firm “No Thanks” emails from jobs I had interviewed for in cities all over the place. There’s no pictures of the joy of being around my good friends for a sustained period of time, and the convenience of being able to meet with them whenever I wanted to. There’s no picture of my early morning super shuttle ride to DIA in July, and the surprisingly deep (aren’t they always?) conversation I had with the driver as I left Colorado, unemployed, for Washington. After reviewing all of the serendipitous things that had brought me to that moment, we came to a mutual agreement that the universe had decided it was time for me to go.

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San Diego, February 2014.

I felt an enormous amount of guilt when I left Colorado again in July. My move away from the state felt more permanent this time. I think I had been in denial for the years I had spent abroad, convinced that my desire to be elsewhere was a temporary state of being that would fade away when I finally finished grad school and headed back. Colorado as a place and the memories I have there remained a North star during a time in my life that felt as precarious as it was enjoyable, a time when I was constantly elsewhere.

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One time last winter in Denver we made mini donuts. They were adorable, but buying that donut pan is one of my minor regrets of 2014.

When I returned from the UK last January, life came back together for me, perhaps too quickly. The first sublet I lived in Denver (the one that I later vacated after two weeks thanks to a roommate debacle I’d rather not go over here) was the only one I contacted. I went to see it on my way back from the airport after returning from England and told the girl on the spot that I was interested. I interviewed for two internships within a week and took one to begin at the end of January. For a week I commuted from Fort Collins to Denver, then signed a lease on a studio in the highlands. I did my best to feel at home, but I still felt torn in many directions. I worked on my thesis in solidarity with friends from grad school from the library at CU, simultaneously feeling hope and dread at the thought of running in to anyone I knew on campus. I hung out with friends from college. I saw my family.

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I went on a lot of walks this year (Thanks Fitbit.) This one was a freezing jaunt around Wash Park in Denver.

I thought Denver was going to be my next step, but the longer I remained there the more I realized that Boulder was where I wanted to be if I was in Colorado… but that Colorado wasn’t where I wanted to be. It’s a weird feeling to be wrong about what you think you want to do. That hasn’t happened to me very often. It felt like breaking up with someone who’s been good to you. I felt like I was sitting in a living room while Colorado made us a 3-course meal after cleaning the house and buying me flowers, as I eyed the door and felt like a terrible person. “It’s not you, it’s me,” I needed to say.

It’s not that I don’t love Colorado. It’s that I need other things right now. It took all year for me to come to some semblance of peace with that feeling.

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Downtown Louisville, a Colorado place where I’d like to spend more time. Who doesn’t love a good neon sign?!

During 2014 I applied to jobs. Oh, boy, did I apply to jobs. I interviewed for positions in San Francisco, in New York, in DC. I felt restless and directionless. The months I spent looking for jobs (and the several leading up to graduation, when it always felt unclear if working on my thesis or writing another cover letter was a better use of my time) were filled with a sustained sense of failure and numbed panic punctuated by joy of the best kind.

Bridget and I were discussing this period of our lives the other night, sitting in the glow of our Christmas tree in our cozy house, and she said something about how unemployment required lots of magical thinking. All it takes is one application that works. All you need is one offer. Just one yes. Just one instance where the whole thing comes together.

Yosemite Valley at sunset, one of punctuations of joy in 2014. I will return.

Yosemite Valley at sunset, one of punctuations of joy in 2014. I will return.

There’s not really any pictures of my early days in DC- the hours and hours spent hanging out in my claustrophobic sublet room, alternately dripping with sweat after coming in from the sopping heat and freezing from the direct hit of the AC as I filled out more applications that I want to remember.

(At least 71, according to the number of cover letters and resumes saved in my 2014 job applications folder. It sure felt like more.)

I did some enjoyable things with all of my free time (I went to Germany, I hung out with friends, I visited museums in DC) but the whole year was shrouded in the one thing that feels most important when you’re unemployed: finding a job.

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This picture is from when I came back to Colorado to pick up some of my stuff to bring to DC in September. Takeoffs and landings, takeoffs and landings. I hope they continue to be a part of my life.

I will never forget the day that I got a job in DC. It was the same day that Bridget got a job, and we met at a swanky downtown DC bar for a celebratory happy hour. We were the only people in the joint dressed casually during the after-work hour, and for the first time in ages it didn’t make me feel like a failure. After I got offered the position, I got into the elevator in the building, walked over to Lafayette Park, sat down on a bench in front of the White House in my suit, and cried. The sense of relief was all-encompassing and almost palpable. It sounds so silly to write down now, but at the time I could not have been more relieved.

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The idyllic life these cows in Allgäu lead is the exact opposite of how 2014 felt to me.

Since my move to DC and the end of the job hunt, life has improved substantially. It’s been an adjustment to live somewhere new, as it always is, but my first few months here have been made much easier thanks to the friends I already knew in the city. Life in the District has been good. I have places I liked to go. I found a used bookstore that I peruse. There’s good Indian food just down the street. We have a garden at our house that I have big plans for come springtime. I feel like I have room to grow.

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Walking around in the rain with Susanna on the way to the Library of Congress in October.

 

In conclusion, 2014 was a remarkable but generally unpleasant experience. Everything that happened this year- including the end-of-December-cold/flu I’m battling as I write this- had to happen to make all the great stuff possible. There were growing pains, and there some wonderful bits in there too. I think my biggest takeaway from this rotation around the sun is that I feel extra ready for 2015. If 2014 was a transition between Point A and Point B, I’m excited to see where and what Point B entails.

2015. I like the sound of it. Let’s do this.

Fall in DC- so fresh, so fine.

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Good thing I finally got around to putting up this post as the temperature dropped to 30 degrees, eh friends?! Excuse my seasonal lateness here, but I figured I needed to get leaf pics out there before Thanksgiving or else I’d have to wait until next year to show you everything!

Walking around in DC in the Fall is THE BEST. As professed in my previous post, I usually hate fall, but I am down with Fall, at least a little bit, in this grand old city. One thing that makes me sad is that lots of people are not into DC. I just think everyone should come visit and I will change hearts and minds. I will feed them good food, I will take them to bike the monuments at night, we will drink coffee at Union Market, and minds will be BLOWN. I just like liking it here. I think lots of people would. And do!

Events these pictures are from: Going to Eastern Market with Bridget. Going to Union Market with the TAMily. Going to the National Gallery. Fall seems to be all about going places and seeing people and neglecting the blog even though I’m doing plenty of beautiful things. Life’s pretty good.

Know what happened at Halloween? We got tons of trick-or-treaters and gave out bunches and bunches of candy and the whole neighborhood gang of children showed up in one fell swoop. It was like a hostile child takeover of our front porch, and I loved it. Everyone is a princess or a superhero and spiderman makes just one too many appearances, but it’s great. I like living somewhere with more than one generation around. It keeps things fresh.

Have an AMAZING WEDNESDAY. I mean it.

Music Mondays: East of Eden by Zella Day


Good evening all! Today’s song is perfect for any activity. Late night dance party of joy? Check. Early morning wake-up motivation? Check. Introspective walk around DC? This is your jam.

I hope you had a good start to the week- let’s rock everything this week and say good morning in all our emails sent before noon.

P.S.- Listen to all the Music Monday jams on this playlist, and check out Anne’s musical post today too!

The Library of Congress on a rainy Monday.

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This is a post about a rainy morning at the Library of Congress on Columbus Day. On federal holidays DC’s weekend slumber extends, and it’s actually quite peaceful around here. New York may be the city that never sleeps, but DC is the city that sleeps well after a long work week.

The Library of Congress is beautiful. We walked up to it through a rainstorm that was unrelenting as the day went on, and stood in the line snaking out the doors and down the steps with umbrellas open, wondering what the big fuss was that particular day. It turns out that Columbus day is one of two days a year that the row-and-rows-of-cards, big-long-drawers archives at the library are open to the general public for marveling and amusement. How lucky!

Once you get inside the building the architectural complexity and beauty continues. There are lovely frescos, mosaics, and statues everywhere, not to mention a gorgeous set of windows in the ceiling. The main reading room is impressive- never in my life have I felt so much like I was in the library scene in Beauty and the Beast! A large portion of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library was also on display, and when he first collected all of his books on trips to Europe and around the world it was one of the largest collections of books in the United States.

One funny piece of our day was interacting with all of the obviously very overwhelmed librarians. They had no idea what to do with the masses of people suddenly disturbing what I imagine is normally a very tranquil and quiet workspace! I even overheard one older woman scoff at the visitors, saying to another older gentleman that “we have to open up the archives for all these young people who have NEVER EVEN SEEN a card catalog before! Can you believe it?!” I laughed. The tactile book hunting experience was definitely interesting to check out, but what a time consuming task to not only label all the books and cards but also find them once you needed them! What a luxury we have as students or readers these days, typing away on machines that let you make as many mistakes as you want and access the world’s information with the click of a button.

I hope you have a wonderful late fall weekend, maybe one filled with good books and copious amounts of tea. Bon Week-end! xx

Food for the soul in Shenandoah.

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Let’s just all take a second and take a deep breath.

Does anyone else feel like they need that today? No, seriously. Drop your bag right there on the floor, take off your work shoes, go wash your face, and just breathe.

….

Sometimes, living in the city, and walking through the streets, and rooting around in its mysteries and work and speed, I get overwhelmed by all the urgency.

“Now wait just a second!” I want to shout, right as I get squished into the metro car during my morning commute.

“Hold your horses!” I would mutter under my breath, as I write email after email after email after email to people whose names all blur together.

“Everyone just calm down!” I wish I could exclaim while I wait in line at the grocery store on a Sunday evening.

Usually I don’t say anything. I just move a little faster myself.

….

Even though DC isn’t a very big city, I do miss the outdoors something fierce sometimes. I think there are a lot of people here who do.

Sometimes you just need to go sit on a rock and poke around in some dirt and walk around on a hill where nobody has ever poured a concrete slab and hopefully nobody ever will.

Somewhere where the metro doesn’t run. You know that place?

….

How long has it been since you thought about milkweed? It’s funny how some things are distinctly from your childhood. Milkweed is one of those for me. I felt a little guilty every time I carefully peeled apart a pod and let the fluffy, soft seeds drift on the wind, further propagating a weed.

At least a monarch might eat it, someday. Right?

….

In Shenandoah last weekend you could see that Fall is here. Fall, in fact, is nearly over. On the tip tops of the hills all the leaves were gone, and the wind whips through the trees with nothing to block it now. I probably already told you, but I usually hate Fall. I find it depressing. In general I’m not into endings, and Fall feels like everything in nature is ending.

It was sunny and beautiful out, though. The sun sure feels good when you get to sit in it for a while. And I like the yellows. The yellows of Fall are the one part I like.

….

Not much more to say. Just a pretty sunset, and a deep breath today.

Life Lately [October]

Hey team. How’s your day going? I’ve been starting a lot of emails with “Hey team” lately. I think it conveys just the right amount of camaraderie and casual attitude while still being grammatically correct enough for work. Work is basically this all day: Email email email! Meeting! Email email email! Lunch! Email email! Meeting! Meeting! Email email email! It’s gotten busy, which is good. Being not busy is THE WORST.
sept141Speaking of work, did I tell you we went apple picking a few weekends ago? It was fun, but also still around 80 degrees out. I can’t say that picking fruit is nearly as fun when the minimal amount of physical exertion required to pick the number of apples you will realistically eat makes you kind of sweaty and really thirsty. Anyway, pumpkins were picked, apples were plucked from the branches of rows and rows and rows of trees, and I also bought some mums to put on our front steps. Basically our house looks SO festive now. If you walked by, you would at MINIMUM consider instagramming it. I mean, once I move the chairs that we picked up off the street out of the front yard. They looks so great [aka they looked really free] and good to have as backup outdoor seating [again… free] but once we got them home we realized that they had shed this weird green tinge from the paint all over our hands while carrying them. Sorry chairs, I think you’re headed to the great outdoor seating area in the sky.
sept143Since I had picked up a few pumpkins while out apple picking I artfully arranged them on our front step alongside the mums. Things were all fine and dandy until I came out one morning to find that SOMEONE thought it would be fun to gnaw away at the pumpkin I agonized over picking for MINUTES at the pumpkin patch. The nerve of the neighborhood squirrels, I tell you!
sept145I started half-assedly running again, too guys. I usually run a loop around the Capitol- it’s fascinating enough to distract me mentally and, as I learned a few days ago, is a magnificent place to look out over the city at sunset. sept146
Susanna came to visit this weekend, and we did A LOT. More to come soon- for now, have a wonderful Monday evening. xx