Friday, October 23, 2015

Yoga: 30 Days Special

As I seek to find that Passionate Hat in my life, I decided I should get out of my lazy comfort zone and try new things, too. For now that is yoga.

Bambu Yoga on Main Street in Lawrenceville has been running a 30 Day, $30 special. For thirty days you can take as many of their classes as you like with as many different instructors, styles, and times as you see fit. At the end, there is no obligation to sign up for a longer commitment.

I am nearly half-way through this challenge. I have taken nine classes and have opened my eyes to the world of yoga.

The first lesson I learned is I am not nearly as flexible or in nearly as good of shape as I thought going into it. A humbling thought indeed.

The next lesson I learned was the word "yoga" encompasses everything from deep meditative practice to powerful stretches that involve a lot of balance.

The third lesson I learned was that different instructors have different approaches even within the same studio and the same style of yoga.

The fourth lesson I learned is yoga can both be fun and you can leave in pain -- not necessarily at the same session, but sometimes at the same session.

The fifth lesson I learned is sitting still is harder than it looks, and harder than it should be.

For those who know what these words mean, I have tried Yin, Restore, Restore Fusion, Beginning, Power, and Restore Mix. I think my favorites are Beginning and Yin.

This weekend I will not have time to get to a class for four days. These four days will help me figure out if I want to continue the commitment, or if it was something fun to try, but not really me. Both answers are okay. Really.

Update:  2/3 of the way through. I was only able to make it to a couple of classes last week. One I loved (beginner yoga) because the teacher encourages us to laugh as we try and not take ourselves too seriously. One I did not like (yin) because the teacher encouraged us to stretch to new points, one which really hurt my legs and the other which made me feel as if I was going to pass out (hands twisted and raised above the head for 3 minutes, repeat with the other hand on top). It was an uncomfortable situation. 

We'll see what this week brings. I only have 10 days left on my trial.

Update: 30 days later. I only found one teacher I really liked (Jen Jen). I liked her because she made us laugh and feel as if we were all in the yoga class together instead of individually. She did not insist on saying things like "your pose is your own," then come over and correct my pose making me feel as if I am failing at yoga (probably not their intent, but I found it distracting). We held our balance poses together and congratulated each other on staying upright. It felt fabulous! Unfortunately she is not a regular teacher and I don't want to pay to continue without her. I meant to stop by this week to thank her for the wonderful experience.

In the end I am glad I tried it, but it is not something I want to stick with at this point in my life. I did feel the benefits in my running, so there is a chance I'll look for another studio and try again someday. The benefit of being able to walk to yoga, though, is very appealing. 

Interesting "Hats" but Seeking One Passionate "Hat"

Growing up I was fortunate to be able to explore lots of different activities -- Girl Scouts, horseback riding, dancing, baton twirling, being a page in a library, seeing Broadway shows, acting, and even spending a year in Belgium. None of those activities became passions, though. They all just became a part of who I am.

Here I am decades older and still have not found that one spark that makes me ME. 

I have friends with passions ranging from Disney to cosplay to history to nature to being eco-friendly to clipping coupons to librarians to biking to running to, well, you name it and someone is super passionate about it. So passionate I feel since my interest in the subject (like running, for example) is never going to be as big as theirs, it remains an interest in my life and not a passion.

Interests I do have. Let's call them different "hats" that I wear: running, writing, editing, reading, Little Free Library, traveling, history, and my family instantly come to mind. None of these interests, though, are all consuming passions. The kind that defines a person. The kind that I can turn into a thriving business.

Speaking of business, I have a number of small ones I don't know how to develop into a large profitable one. You know, the kind that involves passion. We've all seen those Venn Diagram showing the route to being financially and blissfully successful is the intersection of what you love with what the world needs with what you do well with what the world will pay for. Put it that way and it sounds so simple, right?

The business idea I have that could fit that is I want to write memoirs. Unfortunately I stink at creating a business model and am stuck in the "I think this is an awesome idea" stage and (after several years of having this idea) cannot move myself into the "finding paying customers and making it a reality" stage. 

In the meantime my business hats include selling Ava Anderson Non-Toxic unsuccessfully, though my leader believes I can make this a viable business. (Make my day and click on the link and purchase something, please.) Writing stories for the local paper, but feel I spend more time tracking down payments from them than it takes to write the stories themselves. Working for a local publisher editing books and doing odd assignments, which I love, but it isn't as fulfilling as I had hoped. Substitute teaching for area librarians, but it is not the same as having my own library.

Here I sit on my sub lunch break pondering what to do to feel like a more valuable member of society. By valuable, I mean one earning a livable wage.

There we have it. A post about what I should do when I grow up as my friends who found that passion earlier in life now have over 20 years of experience in their fields and begin to dream about retirement.

Where do I go from here?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Philadelphia ideas

Another space holder. Putting Philadelphia "things to do" ideas here so I can find them when I want them (at least in theory). Feel free to add in the comments.

  • Independence Hall – Not only is Independence Hall one of Philly’s most well-known buildings, but it’s completely free to visit! Tour the building and learn about the Founding Fathers who once roamed its halls and the Declaration of Independence which was agreed to in this very building.
  • Free Tours of the Kimmel Center – The Kimmel Center is one of Philadelphia’s most well-known and beautiful concert venues. If you want to learn a bit more about the history and architecture of the building, the Kimmel Center offers free tours of the building everyday at 1pm. Tours last one hour and include visits to many of the theaters inside the center. More information can be found here.
  • John Heinz Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum – Philly might be one of America’s largest cities, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have several excellent outdoor spaces. Located near Philadelphia International Airport, this wildlife refuge is an oasis in the midst of urban sprawl for more than 300 bird species, as well as numerous mammals and reptiles. For human visitors, 10 miles of hiking trails, great bird watching, and even canoeing/kayak opportunities await. Click here for more information.
  • Mount Moriah Cemetery – At one point in time, Mount Moriah Cemetery was ownerless and abandoned. However, with more than 80,000 people buried here, this couldn’t last forever. While there is a cleanup effort underway at the cemetery, much of it is still being reclaimed by nature. Click here to find out more about how you can visit Mount Moriah Cemetery.
  • Student Recitals at the Curtis Institute of Music – Don’t let the thought of going to a student recital remind you of some horrid concert for elementary students. The student recitals at the Curtis Institute of Music are put on by some of the country’s most talented music students. Featuring primarily classical music, the recitals are a great option for those looking for high-quality music on the cheap. Concerts are held most Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights during the school year. Click here for a full schedule.
  • Mario Lanza Institute Museum – Mario Lanza was a world-famous singer and actor during the 1940s and 50s. Born in Philadelphia, Lanza’s career influenced later performers like Luciano Pavarotti and Elvis Presley. Today, you can relive a bit of Lanza’s life and learn about his legacy at a free museum dedicated to his honor. Click here for more information about visiting.
  • Dream Garden – One of Philadelphia’s coolest public art pieces is shamefully under-visited despite being just a block from Independence Hall. Crafted of over 100,000 pieces of Tiffany Glass, the Dream Garden sits in obscurity in the lobby of the Curtis Center along Washington Square. At 15×49 feet, the Dream Garden is one of America’s most exquisite glass murals. More information about visiting the Dream Garden can be found here.
  • Ice Skating at a Public Skating Rink – Like ice skating and have your own skates? Visit one of the city’s many public ice skating rinks during the winter months and skate ’til your heart’s content without paying a penny (If you don’t have ice skates, there is a fee to rent them. However, skating on the rink itself is completely free). For more information on skating in Philadelphia, click here.
  • Fireman’s Hall Museum – Located in a restored turn-of-the-century fire hall, the Fireman’s Hall Museum focuses on the rich history of firefighting in Philadelphia. Click the link for more information about visiting.
  • Liberty Bell – Located next door to Independence Hall might be Philly’s most famous item: the Liberty Bell. While it once hung in the bell tower of Independence Hall, it now has a place of honor inside its own building. Stepping inside to see this iconic bell is completely free for anyone.
  • Tours of Philadelphia Brewing Company – Want to learn how beer is made? Tours of the Philadelphia Brewing Company are offered for free on Saturdays between noon and 3pm. Visit to learn about the brewery and sample some of their great brews (unfortunately not free). Click here for information.
  • Awbury Arboretum – Once the home to a large Quaker family, the 55-acre grounds of the Awbury Arboretum have been opened free to the public for nearly 100 years. Stroll through the beautifully manicured gardens or take some time to study the large variety of shrubs and trees on the arboretum’s grounds.
  • Elfreth’s Alley – As America’s oldest, continually-inhabited residential street, Elfreth’s Alley already has an amazing amount of history along its narrow cobblestone street. While the street itself might be short, the beauty of the houses and its history make it a great destination for any history lovers visiting Philly. Click here for my full review of Elfreth’s Alley.
  • Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse – Located in a purpose-built mansion and surrounding park, Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse looks like one of the most amazing play areas for children anywhere. If you have kids in Philadelphia, this is a must-visit destination. Click here for more information.
  • Carpenter’s Hall – Carpenter’s Hall is one of Philadelphia’s most historic buildings. The site of the First Continental Congress in 1774, a Revolutionary War hospital, the 1st and 2nd banks of America, and Benjamin Franklin’s first library, Carpenter’s Hall has more history than most buildings twice its age.
  • Reading Terminal Market – If you’re looking for a unique shopping experience in downtown Philadelphia, look no further than Reading Terminal Market. Home to everything from Amish produce stands to authentic Asian cuisine, the market has something for everyone. True, it costs money to buy something from the shops and restaurants, but wandering through and experiencing the sights and smells of the market is completely free.
  • Jefferson’s Walking Tour of Philadelphia – Want to know more about the places that Thomas Jefferson frequented while he lived in Philadelphia? Check out this great free walking tour put together by the American Philosophical Society. Get some exercise and check out some of Jefferson’s favorite haunts at the same time. Click here to download the walking tour guide.
  • Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial Sculpture Garden – The Ellen Phillips Samuel Memorial Sculpture Garden features 17 sculptures that showcase American life. The garden in itself is definitely worth visiting, however, it also has one more feature that is sure to intrigue: a whispering bench. Sit two people on opposite sides of the bench, roughly 50 feet apart, and they can hear each other whisper.
  • Chemical Heritage Foundation Museum – Located in the heart of Philadelphia’s Old City, the Chemical Heritage Foundation Museum looks not at the history of America, but at the history of chemistry. Going back to the days of alchemy, the museum looks at home chemistry and how the work of chemists have changed our lives. Click here for my full review of the museum.
  • Institute of Contemporary Art – This gallery that featured Andy Warhol’s first solo museum exhibition, so you never know what future megastar you might encounter at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Located on the grounds of the University of Pennsylvania, the museum features 12 shows a year, so there is always something new to see in their rotating display. Information about what’s currently on display can be found on the museum’s website.
  • Congress Hall – Another of the fantastic historical buildings in downtown Philly, Congress Hall was where the House of Representatives and the Senate met from 1790-1800. Site of the inauguration of two Presidents, along with many other events that shaped the founding on the country, Congress Hall is a fantastic and free thing to do in Philadelphia.
  • TUSPM Shoe Museum – Run by the Temple School of Podiatric Medicine, the TUSPM Shoe Museum features hundreds of pairs of shoes from every conceivable era and interest. Shoes on display date back as far as Ancient Egypt, and there are many shoes from famous celebrities including Reggie Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, Joan Rivers, and several former presidents and first ladies. Admission to the museum is free, but needs to be scheduled in advance. Go to their website for more information.

NCB's Boston Ideas

About once a year we head up to Boston to see family. Each time we go we struggle to find something new that is free or cheap. New Cousin Barbara (NCB) and her husband "Mahk" gave us their thoughts. 

Walk around Jamaica Pond
Visit the Arnold (pronounced "AHH-nold" if you want to blend in ;) Arboretum 

The Museum of Fine Arts (largest art museum in Massachusetts)
and the Isabella Stewart Garden Museums (scene of the famous "Biggest Art Heist in the US") are just a few miles away from JP

When I mentioned you would be willing to go "in town" via the T, then the texts started flying and my phone almost blew up...!

Take a State House tour
Go up to the Top of the Hub (observation floor) at the Prudential Tower
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
New England Aquarium
The Boston Museum of Science
Duck Tour from the Museum of Science (ignore any bad duck boat news you might have heard from Seattle...or Philly)
Christian Science Center "MAPOREUM" (very cool take!)
Bunker Hill Monument (which wouldn't have been on the Freedom trail)
Tea Party Boats down near South Station
Boston Common and Public Gardens (nice walk, scenic, plus swan shaped like swans...the Make Way for Ducklings sculpture/bronzes...Oh, and the Garden of Remembrance -the 9/11 Memorial is there by the Swan boats)
Harbor Cruise from Rowe's Wharf
Take Redline to Harvard and walk around oldest campus in America and Harvard Square (eclectic "Northampton-y" type place)
Museum of Natural History is a very good take (if you go the Harvard route ^)
Thinking of you, Jacquie, he suggested Boston Public Library which is stunning inside!

If you are down by the Harbor at all and see the Boston Harbor Hotel's "Arch" (can't miss it) that is where Mark and I met to go on our first date. Can we get an "Awwwww....."

Michelle added:

While in Boston proper, we did all the "touristy" things -- did the Boston Tea Party Museum & Ships which is a newer museum. We LOVED it. Our admission happened to be included in the tickets we bought on the Old Town Trolley of Boston (we used the same company down in Washington DC to get to the different attractions and it's a great way to see the sites). Even if it hadn't been included in our tickets, I would've happily paid to go there -- it was a wonderful time! In character guides, interactive, kids got to throw the "tea" into the harbor, etc. Just an excellent attraction all around. We went on theBoston Ducks, explored Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall, watched the street performers there, checked out the waterfront, toured the USS Constitution and a WWII Destroyer (the USS Cassin Young), walked around Little Italy (the North End), did a 1-hour walking tour via Boston by Foot (the one we did was called Boston by Little Feet and is specifically geared toward kids ages 6-12), rode the carousel on the Greenway, walked around Boston Common and the Public Garden, and rode on the Swan Boats in the Public Garden. We'd still like to go back and do the NE Aquarium, ride one of the other Duck tours (the one we did takes the Duck into the Charles River; there's another one that takes the Duck into Boston Harbor), do a longer walking tour, etc.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Balloon Ladies at the Princeton Half Marathon

I ran, well limped through, the 2014 Princeton Half Marathon with the thought "at least I never have to run on Herrontown Road again in my life." We are all familiar with where thoughts like that tend to lead. Mine, of course, lead me back to Herrontown Road for my third Princeton Half Marathon.

I'm a committee member for the Princeton Half Marathon. My role is to talk about how the back-of-the-packers feel, and what our needs are when they differ from those speedy folks who cross the finish line in half the time.

One of my brilliant ideas was the Balloon Lady, modeled after the one at Disney races. After a couple of years of having trouble getting those falling behind the 14 minute pace to stop, Catharine and Michael asked me to be the Balloon Lady. My thoughts ranged from "but I never wanted to do this race ever again" to "only if I can talk a friend into joining me." I immediately thought of Meaghan and how her positive attitude got me to the finish line at the 2014 Caffee Gelato Waffle Cone 10-miler in Newark, NE -- a trail race where it is quite easy to get lost. As I'm thinking "OUCH" she is saying "you can do it!"

Fortunately Meaghan immediately said yes. Even after she broke her toe (not running related) she was willing to stick with me. I hope we were a good team.

While the course was the same, there was one major change. The race moved from the first Sunday in November to the first Sunday in October. That meant one less month for preparing (i.e., training for the runners, but also race prep time for the organizers), as well as a huge difference in sunlight. The November date was the day after "falling back" on our clocks, the October date was dark as we lined up at the start line for the 7 AM race. The other notable difference was the foliage -- most leaves and acorns were on the trees still and not on the trail.

Let me point out the day before the weather had a massive Nor'Easter with strong winds. The forecast was calling for 50 degrees and 14 MPH winds. I'm sure I overdressed with the running tights, but going at the slower pace, they didn't both me in that way. What did "annoy" me that morning was that the tights made a slippery slope for my cute SparkleSkirt and the skirt kept sliding (the tights stayed in place). Princeton is a more serious race than most that I do (hence the 14 minute pace requirement) and the skirt was used to let the sweep van know we are the Balloon Ladies, or as someone else referred to me as "oh, you are Don's wife, he told us about you at our training meeting."

Maintaining a steady 14 minute pace is not as easy as it sounds. My walking pace is about 15. My running pace (for long distances) is more like 12. I already run/walk. Meaghan put a lot more thought into this than I did. She figured out alternating 30 seconds of running/jogging with 40 seconds of "walking with a purpose" would get us to the finish line at the 3:04 mark. A race like this one calls for going faster in the beginning flatter and downhill sections and saving yourself for the hills in the second half of the race, but we were not "pacing" in the traditional sense, we were keeping a steady pace uphill, downhill, and flat. 

Our job was to make it fun for the back of the packers, but still let them know they have to maintain a 14 minute pace or they are done for the day.

Meaghan held a "no person left behind" approach. She firmly believes everyone out there would finish, and could finish within the 3:04 limit. I had a more pessimistic view -- not everyone can do it, nor should everyone do it. Those hills are tough!

The only person to take the sweep van was Tom. By mile 3 he was red-faced and struggling. He is also the person who was shocked to learn at packet pick up the pace was 14 minutes -- which was clearly indicated on the registration form, but easy to forget when registering. By mile 6 Bill, the elliptical cyclist whose role was to follow us, encouraged Tom man-to-man not to attempt the hill at Washington Road. He had a good 75-minute work out and should stop.

Meaghan and I had slipped a little behind at this point (we had a sheet with when we were supposed to pass each mile marker), so we blew through some intervals to catch up with the next stragglers. We ended up one minute ahead at each mile marker, but still behind the last person.

These women were cute. The one in blue is a seasoned half marathoner. She talked her friend (in pink) into doing this race. The friend was struggling, but her buddy would not let her lag. The other woman (the one in grey) was equally determined to finish. 

We made it to the sweep point at 9:10. The stated deal on the official email was if you got to the sweep van by 9:15, you were free to finish the race and would not be swept. As a committee, we need to rethink that timing. It was both mile marker 9.15 and stated time of 9:15. Meaghan did the math. 9:15 had them at a 14:22 pace, with a giant hill (the dreaded Herrontown Road) ahead of them. The three made it to the sweep point at 9:15. The sweepers decided they were good to continue (it was our job to educate, not to pull bibs). At this point, Meaghan and I felt our job was done and we picked up our pace back to the official 14 minute pace (as noted by our cheat sheet). A couple of our quarter mile intervals were in the 10 minute pace. Those behind us could not keep up with that. The police knew we were the tails, and opened the roads behind us. They were encouraged to use the sidewalks.

Meaghan was doing great. I kept up with her for about 3 miles, then lost all steam. It happens. My legs cramped up around the 12.5 mile mark. I knew I could walk it and finish by 3:04, so I did. She kept up with her intervals, and her smiles, and finished at 3:02, but waited until 3:04 to cross the line. I sprinted the last .05 mile to finish at 3:04:59 to a crowd primed to cheer my name to the end, and a hug from the organizer for finishing right on pace.

Here is where things get awkward. What happens to those who made the sweep cut but not the 3:04 finish time? Those within eyesight were easily given medals, but a point came when the roads had to be opened and the timing company wanted to go home. How long is long enough to wait? We passed a couple of guys in the last mile for the first time who ran out of steam at the 11-12 mile mark. We passed one at the 12.25 mile mark with leg cramps -- he came in very late, but after hearing their story he was okay. The three ladies who should have taken the sag wagon at 9.15 kept going. They refused to stop. I get that. Running/walking/exercising/reading/knitting/etc. can be addictive. Despite a long drive home ahead of her, and a busy day as a mom, Meaghan cheered them all to the end. By the time those three ladies made it, the finish line was down, I was heading to my car, and the medals were packed away.

What do we need to do in the future? I hate to add a sweep spot at the 12 mile mark, but ending 25 minutes after the stated finish time is not acceptable, either.

What do we do about people who (for whatever reason) decide to start the race 15-30 minutes late (yes, I encountered that)? They could clearly run a half marathon at the pace, but it is not fair to the race organizers and volunteers to stay at their post past the Balloon Ladies "in case" someone decides to start late.

As stated earlier, Meaghan is the perfect cheerleader. I was more of a realist. I tried to explain Princeton is not an easy course. It is certainly not a first timers course, yet being geographically desirable people sign up for it as their first half marathon. Can we make people give us proof of their time, like they do for Boston? 

Without some change, the police will insist on changing it to a 13 minute pace, which will eliminate me. I'd hate for that to happen, but we are running out of ideas.

<--- Photobombers!

PS: with the high winds and lack of ideas how to attach balloons, we didn't run with balloons.

Massachusetts Family

As stated in this post, the main purpose for our trip to Massachusetts was to see family. Don's Aunt Elva is 99 years young. Her birthday is in July, but we missed it due to our summer adventures and Ashley's summer adventures. We found a rare quiet weekend and made the drive to New England, spotting only the earliest glimpses of fall.

We had a lovely visit with Aunt Elva and her children, Martin and Helen, and their spouses, Franca and Paul. Unfortunately Elva's hearing aid was not working well, but she still smiled and was as engaged as possible in our lively conversations. Since she has been wheelchair and bed bound following her stroke, we visited in her nursing home.

We like capturing a picture of the oldest and youngest Pillsbury.

Her other daughter, Nancy, and her husband, Rich, live in another state.

Behind her nursing home is Jamaica Pond, a park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. If you don't know who that is, look him up. He has designed some of the most famous, and most beautiful, parks in the country.

The next day we visited my newest cousin. So new, I call her NCB -- New Cousin Barbara. She was an find. Unfortunately she couldn't stop at the realization of being part of our awesome family, she had to do more research and discovered we are not biologically related after all. We love her and her family anyway.

This time we did not leave without getting a picture together.

We finally met "Mahk" a Bostonian who loves Bruce Springsteen. 

Brett hung out at home checking out the construction equipment while we went on a walk around the reservoir behind their house. I'm already in the park about a mile from our house several times a week, could you imagine how often I would be running and walking on these trails?

 They lent Ashley Mark's bike and Even gave Ashley the guided tour around the loop while the adults chatted. 

Ahh... simply beautiful.

Unfortunately we had to head back into the car for the drive home. We made it back just in time to make the first WiNK service of the new year.

Perhaps not a very exciting blog post, but I was excited to see family and wanted to share that excitement with the few of you who actually read the Pillsbury Press.

Eric Carle Museum

We found a rare free weekend on our calendar so we decided to head north to see Aunt Elva and her children. We missed her 99th birthday celebration last summer, but still wanted to see her so we built a weekend around the visit.

Friday was a half-day for Ashley, it was also a very quiet day at school for her, so with her teacher's blessing we played hokey for the day and left in the morning.

Our first stop was the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. As a children's librarian wannabe, I can't believe it has taken me this long to visit. Eric Carle is the illustrator and author of many children's books, but he is most famous for "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" about a caterpillar whose appetite kept growing until finally he becomes a butterfly. 

For me the highlight of the museum was the movie about his life. He was born in Syracuse, New York to a German mother. His family moved back to Germany in 1935 when he was about 6. Nothing in the movie talked about life in Germany in the mid-1930s. The biographic fast forwards to 1952 when he moved back to New York with a portfolio and $40 in his pocket (he was 23 at the time). Actually the movie did not give that much detail, I gleaned that from his official online biography, which also skipped over Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, which must have had a huge impact on his life.

His mother supported his art telling people not to disturb him while he was creating. He went into advertising before becoming a children's illustrator later in life. One thing we did not learn from the movie is why if he lives in and grew up in Syracuse, NY is his museum in Amherst, MA? There must be a story, which I could find out with a little more research.

The museum has a room in which you can create collage art. A younger Ashley would have spent hours there. Our teenage Ashley was hungry (like the caterpillar, she too is transforming) and was encouraging us towards dinner. They also have a library filled with children's books. Ahh...mecca. Of course the larges section was dedicated to Eric Carle books.

The museum also has three rooms of artwork. Rooms where photographs are not allowed in order to best preserve the pictures. Two of the rooms rotate every few months with a variety of illustrators. The third has Eric Carle artwork in it, but even that one says it will close in March 2016. Hopefully to be replaced with some other artwork by him?

On our trip we could see Gray Matters: David Macaulay's Black and White (May 19-November 29, 2015) and A Renaissance Man: The Art of Fred Marcellino (June 30-October 25, 2015). I was familiar with both of their works. I had read a book illustrated by Marcellino through my librarian's group.

The Eric Carle room was divided into two sections: From A to Z (as always, some letters were a stretch) and a part about his newest book, The Nonsense Show, which comes out this month. There was also a giant blank wall begging for something. 

From there we battled New England traffic to go to Northampton for dinner. Northampton is like a hippie version of Princeton -- a college town (Smith College) with tattoo parlors. All I can say is it works. We had dinner at The Local, a burger shop, and ice cream at Herrell's (even I splurged and had a few bites of their chocolate peppermint ice cream).

The town has a flavor. Not of ice cream, though, but of atmosphere. There are local shops and restaurants, street musicians, and life. They also have a bike trail running through it to New Haven, CT (another college town). The

Framington Canal Rail to Trail is 84 miles long. Perhaps on a future trip we'll bring our bicycles up and take a spin on part of the trail. 

It was a fun start to our weekend.