Hallowed Halls of Johns Hopkins

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The path of spiritual growth is a path of lifelong learning. ~ M. Scott Peck, author of Gifts of the Journey, In Search of Stones and The Road Less Traveled

Happy Halloween, everyone. On October 3rd, my cousin Meg Heisse and I witnessed a little hocus-pocus when we attended An Evening of Victorian Magic at Evergreen Mansion and Library, which is a Johns Hopkins University Museum. Since my cousin is a member, we attended a pre-performance reception held in the Asian red room among Chinese and Japanese collectibles. The bartenders stirred up Victorian libations and we saw up close magic tricks by David London. Mind reader indeed, out of a 52 card deck, the magician asked me to select one card and show it to others.  No slight of hand involved, through telepathic transmission he correctly identified the card I had picked. But that was just the start of the delightful evening. The magician had many more magic tricks up his sleeve once the show started and he came to the stage.

There was no need to build a stage for the evening because there is already a Victorian era theatre in the Evergreen Museum. And although there were no upper level seats for celestials to sit as in many Victorian theatres, we were told apparitions are in or about the rooms of the mansion. The theatre, painted by Russian Artist Leon Bakst, was used regularly to entertain the three Garrett boys, who at one time lived there.

The Evergreen Museum and Library was built in 1850 and became home to railroad magnate, John Garrett and his family. He was President of Baltimore and Ohio “B & O” Railroad. A little over one hundred years later, in 1952, the Italianate home from the Guilded Era was donated to Johns Hopkins University and it is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Also in the mansion is a 30,000  volume library with much of which is English Renaissance literature. Paintings by Picasso, DegasModigliani and stained glass by Tiffany, a 23 karat gold plated bathroom all are housed in the structure. In the Asian red room I spied several pieces of Chinoiserie furniture and as I snooped around in the museum gift shop at Evergreen, I saw several beautiful publications about stained glass.

Today, my Halloween treat to our readers is a recipe for soul cakes which traditionally was the offering to others on All Hallows Eve. And here are a few pictures of our evening at Evergreen Museum and Library, too. Look carefully you might see things that fool the eye!

Some time soon I do look forward to returning to the historic Evergreen Museum to take the full tour. This wonderful landmark is only one of the institutions of the Sheridan Libraries of Johns Hopkins. Check out the others on their website.

Thank you Meg for inviting me to accompany you for the evening.

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author, Sue Batton Leonard.

 

Blindly Chosen, Faithfully Read

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To build up a library is to create a life. It’s never just a random collection of books. –Carlos María Domínguez

March is just around the corner. Before we leave this heart-centered month, I wanted to mention an idea that came to my attention through my favorite hangout – our local library.

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On Valentines Day, the Bud Werner Memorial Library  provided an act of kindness through their Blind Date with a Book program. They set-up their library patrons up for an enjoyable night of entertainment.

The gift was wrapped up in brown paper, tied up with string, including a clue or two to help the reader make  their date selection. The title and author’s name was hidden and the reader had to accept on blind faith that what was “between the covers” was something good.

But as on any blind date, the only way to get acquainted with a character is to learn something about them. With time we get to know whether a character is as a mystery, a hopeless romantic or ready for a wild or steamy adventure. Sweet idea!

I’d like to conclude this writing today by repeating a bumper sticker that is frequently seen here where I live. One is on my car. It says “I came for the skiing and stayed for the library.”

What an asset to have a wonderful library in any community.

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring Tomes and Tombs

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energy-saving-lamp-shape-heart-8297227So my purpose for today’s blog is to remind to myself that “energy flows where attention goes,” an adage that I used to motivate myself when I was engrossed in writing my memoir “Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.” Once again, I need reassurance from myself that time spent writing will be worth every minute in personal fulfillment payoff.

There is a person of interest in my family who I have begun researching. The information about my ancestor here-to-fore has been very sketchy and for me, of little interest. Thanks to help from a genealogy librarian, I now have more reason to turn my attentiveness to this person, a blood relative removed by a few generations.

I have been inspired by members of the genealogy club and the genealogy writers group at the Bud Werner Memorial Library to move forward with the knowledge. The tracing of the story will most likely require some intercontinental research. I’ve seen through other people’s genealogy projects how in this  day and age of digital technology, there are fewer obstacles to finding out information originating in other countries than there was decades ago.

If you are interested in genealogy, you might enjoy the PBS Show Finding Your Roots, with Henry Louis Gates, a Harvard scholar. The purpose of the show is  “to unearth the family histories of influential people helping shape our national identity.” See the website to confirm when it is broadcast in your area.

To sum things up,  I am pursuing an interest that begins with my family roots. The historical value in the family member should not be allowed to smolder and die. To me it’s important and hopefully to others it will also be interesting.

Ultimately I’d like to shed more light on the historical story through my writing if I can do it in a way that will not take the rest of my lifetime!

This blog brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard.

 

Dear Santa 2015

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December, 2015

Dear Santa,

635524489837773185-write-santaI hope you haven’t had your fill of yearly letters from me yet. This December I have an even larger request. Over the past few years you’ve marvelously delivered what I’ve asked for so I hope you can
pull things off for me once more.

Three or four years ago I requested that you provide me with memories of my childhood so I could pen a memoir. Things came through very clearly.

The next year I was lagging in the motivation to finish the publication. Miraculously, persistance and determination began to show up more frequently. Thus, I accomplished my goal. Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected came into the marketplace.

Last year, as you may remember, when I read my Dear Santa letter at the Steamboat Writers Group Xmas party I asked you for two gifts – to deliver some creative ideas on fresh ways to market my memoir and ideas for a new publication. Out of a small twinkle I once saw in your eye Santa, my e-book Lessons of Heart & Soul came into being.

I’m a little concerned that I am really overstepping my limits this year. I have a larger request than ever. Regretfully for you, but fortunately for me, my love of writing keeps leading me forward which requires asking for what could be harder to fill requests every year.

Santa, I am in dire need of a new computer. I mean, the one I’ve got I can tell is nearly worn out. I am grateful that it still is hanging in there.  I can always go work in the library, if  you can not fulfill my request. After all, it’s a beautiful environment – bright, cozy warm and the technology is all there. Problem is we are limited in the number of hours we can use their computers.  There are lots of other people who need them. I understand. I’m not kidding, I really do. Sometimes I awake in the middle of the night…and you know what William Faulkner says about that – “if there’s story is in you, it’s got to come out.

This year I’ve been asked to edit a publication and I need to contribute a chapter to the book also. I could work a little more efficiently if I had a new computer.

Lastly, Santa, I need a larger spark of interest in my ancestors because I have become involved in a genealogy writers group. Although I love to write about my memories, and I have a new found love of writing fiction, my most recent foray into a story can not come from just my own opinions. I’ll need some facts to better substantiate what I intend to write about. Can you help me out with that?

I’ve been a good girl. I always work hard at whatever I am doing. I’ve gotten my work ethics from my forebearers! I am not a slacker. I try to be kind and compassionate, like you. I help others to successfully accomplish their independent publishing goals by sharing my knowledge. It’s what I love to do!

Say, I have an idea! How about one year you and Mrs. Claus write love letters to one another about the spirit of Christmas.  They will be in kept in the family archives for generations. All your little elves down the line will love it too. I’ll help you if I have the means to do so. That is… with my new computer… (Hint, hint!)

P.S. Please don’t forget to take some time out for yourself. It keeps you healthy and in the right spirit of Christmas. Love U! Sue

Bringing Community Together

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bookclubWhat brings community together? Just ask the South Routt County Book Club and they will say “BOOKS!”

I  became familiar with this group of readers when I met one of it’s members at the Bud Werner Memorial Library Genealogy Club. Here is what Vanessa has to say about bringing individuals together through reading~

“The backgrounds of our participants is so varied and interesting.  There are ranch wives who have lived here for generations, several who have lived all over the world, who worked for the CIA in Paris, another has lived in South Korea, Netherlands, Argentina etc. following her husband’s work.  Many are retired, or are active in community non-profits, and they range from librarians to a psychologist to women who have never worked outside the home. Those who do work include a hair stylist who participated with her 16 year old daughter, a substitute teacher, and our current library manager. 

Our age range as stated has been between 16 and 80 something!  Our youngest started with her Mom and is now a senior in college.  We manage somehow to include all age ranges in our choices.  Book themes can be universal and appeal to every age.

We have been going since 2008 when we started with 6 members and now have twenty.  I remember holding my youngest grandaughter who was 3 weeks old at one meeting as I was babysitting for my son and daughter-in-law.

We select themes and book titles at our Jan. meeting and meet every other month with 3 selections on the current theme.  Some themes have been: War, Second Chances, Life’s Situations, Classics, Famous People, Hemingway, Memoirs, etc.  Everyone goes around and throws out titles and then we group them into a theme and try to have a contrast.

Our meeting places vary among our members.  Some for whatever reason will host at one of our libraries, however, most are at private homes.  We have a social period and food before we discuss the current books-many times the theme or books themselves will suggest the menu. We incorporate movies, pictures, and other items at our meetings. One memorable one was when we read Wild by (forget the author’s name!) and a member who had walked the Appalachian Trail shared that experience with us.

  The small (and I mean small) towns in the south part of Routt County are financially depressed yet surrounded by million dollar mansions and a small rural community around Stagecoach Lake.  The older residents are hardy, conservative, and clannish but community spirited with colorful people.There is also a large group who have moved here for the wonderful ski town atmosphere and for second homes and tend to be more liberal and richer.  Makes for an interesting clash of values though all seem to come together when needed.”

Thank you Vanessa for sharing this wealth of information about your book club and how it has brought a diverse group of people with varied interests and backgrounds together!

If you have never been a member of a book club before, put it on your list of things to do in the New Year!

This blog is brought to you by EVVY award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.

Sketches of Ancestors

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Last week I was up against the clock. I hadn’t a thing to contribute to the genealogy writers group that I attend at our local library. Our meeting was impending and I felt pressure to be an active participating member by reading my writing.

In the wee hours of the morning, I suddenly awoke with a glimmer of a thought. As I lay in bed tossing and turning, mental images of my maternal grandfather were brought together as I recalled what my mom had told me through her storytelling. Finally at 2:30 in the morning I got up and began to put words to the depiction I had created in my mind of my deceased grandfather.

As I wrote I sipped a cup of chamomile tea, hoping that once I had put my thoughts to rest on a piece of paper, the tea would relax me and help me fall back asleep. No such luck.

I was so content with the picture I had painted with words of my maternal grandfather, the rest of the night I lay awake pondering it.

My maternal grandfather and my maternal grandmother both passed away when I was very young. Their presence is not in my childhood memories of thanksgiving tables my family and I have shared together. However through the tales of my mother, I can bring her parents alive through my writing.

heritage

Writing about the legacy and values of a family is never time wasted. It becomes part of our heritage.

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Reading: A Vintage Idea

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Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book. –Author Unknown

It’s not pop-psychology or new age thinking that a love of reading has many fulfilling advantages. Books stimulate the mind, they transport us to different places, we get to meet interesting characters with diverse personalities and learn something about different cultures. Literature broadens our world and exposes us to new concepts and ideas. Here is what some influential writers say about the magic of reading.

Today, I thought we’d take a trip down memory lane and see some of the vintage signs that indicate “reading is good for you.” These placards and posters have decorated libraries, reading rooms, bookstores and other platforms over the decades.

Come along and think back to when you obtained your first library card. What did it feel like? A priviledge? Freedom? A passport into a new world?

I heard one man, my father say “the day he got his first library card, it was like the best gift he had ever been given.”  My reply to that was “Oh, and then came the wife and the children….” Just kiddin’ Dad. We know you’d be lost without your books!

Seriously, if you have young children, one of the best things you can do is let them catch you reading, frequently! Happy Reading, everyone!

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This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard. For information on the award-winning Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, click here. And for Lessons of Heart & Soul, click here.