A Few of My Favorite Things

Besides my family, here are a few of my favorite things.

Farmers’ Markets.

St. Paul Farmers' Market sign July 2012

I love going to the St. Paul Farmers’ Market when I am visiting my sister in Minnesota.  A visit early in the season will allow you to purchase bedding plants – vegetables, herbs, and flowers.  You can always get locally grown, organic meats and other homemade and artisanal products like honey, jams & jellies, homemade soaps, chocolates, dips and spreads, and even some ready to eat items.  As the season progresses, you see the gamut of seasonal fruits and vegetables grown throughout the state.

Freaky Family Fun Farmers Market Eugene 2012

I love going to the Saturday Market when I am visiting my sister in Eugene, Oregon.  The Saturday Market includes not only a farmers’ market section, but an extensive section of “shops” with other handmade and handcrafted items including the widest selection of tie dyed items available anywhere.  The hippy culture is alive and well at the Saturday Market, which claims to be the oldest, continuously running market in the country.

When we lived in Coppell, Texas, we went to the local Farmers’ Market every weekend during the season.  This is where our three youngest children learned about seasonal foods and how good really fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and other homemade things could be.

We bought artisanal cheeses and breads every week from one of the local farms.  They invited us for a personal tour of their farm (unfortunately, we never were able to make the trip).  We bought a jar of jam every week from the jam lady.  We would return the empty jars to her, too.  On our last Saturday before we moved, she thanked us for being loyal customers and gave us several jars to take with us to our new home back in our home town.  These things don’t happen at your local grocery stores.

Museums.

National Gallery London 2011

I loved visiting The National Gallery in London, England.  It houses over 2,300 works of art from the 14th century through 1900.  And the admission is FREE.

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I went to The National Gallery because I wanted to see this picture of Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painted in 1888.  And I was not disappointed.

But, as I spent time over two days exploring the halls of The National Gallery, I was blown away by the erotic and often gruesome and grisly paintings from the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries.  Much of that work was religious in nature.  It brought to life how many of the stories in the Bible are so intensely human and, really, how little has changed over the centuries.  The media may have changed, but man’s inhumanity to man as portrayed in art seems to remain constant.

It also made me wonder what kind of criticism and potential censorship these artists, who are considered great masters, would endure even today.  When an Attorney General of the United States spent over $8,000 to cover the partially nude statues in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice because he was embarrassed to be photographed in front of them, it doesn’t take one too much imagination to realize that several hundred years later, we continue to be challenged by art and artists (read about it here).

When I lived in Chicago in the early 1980s, I used to take the train from my little apartment in the suburbs into the city just to visit The Art Institute.  I was entranced by their collection of Impressionistic and Post-Impressionistic works.  Of course, I was very impressionable when I was in my early 20s (pun intended).

I also love outdoor museums.  The Missouri Botanical Garden and The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum are two of my favorite “outdoor” museums.  For my friends in the St. Louis, Missouri, area, a visit to The Missouri Botanical Garden should include a visit to see the Dale Chihuly glass sculptures which are modernistic and exquisite.  His work can be seen all over the world and graces the ceiling of The Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Adventure.

Mime in front of the National Gallery London

One of the benefits of traveling outside of one’s home, is the chance to see characters you wouldn’t normally see.  Trafalgar Square in London is a vibrant, bustling area filled with historic significance, wonderful places to visit, eat, and shop.  But it’s also brimming with characters.  Many actors and mimes work just outside The National Gallery in London, in Trafalgar Square including Batman, Wonder Woman, Jack Sparrow, and a fascinating mime who managed to move into different positions without notice all while hundreds of people were milling about.

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There are a lot of things on my bucket list.  Things to do.  Places to go.  I’m afraid that I will not live long enough to accomplish everything that is on that list, but one of the things that I did manage to do was to zip line through the rain forest.  I did this in spite of my irrational fear of heights.  This adventure included 11 zips at increasingly higher and longer lines.

After that I even hiked on aerial bridges high in the canopy of the rain forest.  Frightening for me, but I was resolved to do it.  It was extra fun having this adventure with DSH and our two youngest children.

First Day of Big Vacation June 1 1998

I wanted our children to have this sense of adventure, too.  On June 1, 1998, we embarked on a month-long, cross-country trip from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest.  We visited many state and national parks and monuments and other quirky tourist destinations along the way.  We traveled 7,013 miles over one month (read about it here), and it is still mentioned as one of their fondest and lasting memories from childhood.

The adventure bug has hit one of my kids.  Hard.  She is currently spending a semester studying abroad in Argentina and is taking the opportunity seriously and traveling around the country as much as possible – all within her college-kid budget.

My bucket list is full of the places that I have longed to visit, but put off while having children and raising our family.

We are working on completing the downsizing moves this summer and our two youngest children are now halfway done with college, so I’m making plans for checking items off the list!

Stay tuned!

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