Baldwin’s Book Barn

I was recently visiting friends in Pennsylvania. I’m originally from PA, but I had never heard of Baldwin’s Book Barn until a friend of mine moved near West Chester. When I went to visit, she put a tour of this amazing bookstore on her list.

The smells of book glue and dust hit me the moment I walked in the door. The friendly staff greeted me, but I barely heard them. I was entranced by the sea of books in front of me.

Most of the books are old or rare, and a lot of them are in surprisingly good condition. Right off the bat, I found a copy of Louisa May Alcott’s An Old Fashioned Girl. I’ve never read the book, but I’m a fan of LMA, mostly because I love her horror stories, so I snatched it up. Because I was flying (and therefore limited by luggage weight), I exercised some self-control, only leaving with five carefully chosen books.

The floors creaked, and the stairways were narrow and steep. As I walked upstairs, I hoped I wouldn’t fall to my death (this is more due to my clumsiness than any safety hazards). Each floor had a different theme, and I spent time exploring the titles and sections. Honestly, it was like a treasure hunt. I had no idea what I was going to find, but that was the fun of it.

There were some wooden bookshelves, and in other places, they used old fruit crates to hold the books. The fourth floor had a bunch of chairs for people to rest and enjoy the atmosphere.

No one tried to rush me as I browsed the shelves. There was no “helpful” staff hovering and interfering with my enjoyment. It was just me listening to the books whispering secrets.

I love my local bookstores in Austin, but they’re modern, clean, and efficient. Baldwin’s Book Barn has secrets, and I wish I could spend more time exploring them.

Do you have a favorite or unique bookstore?

Dear Texas… About Our Relationship…

Please come back, nice day!! Photo credit: Doree Weller

Please come back, nice day!!
Photo credit: Doree Weller

Dear Texas,

I wanted to talk to you about our relationship.  When I agreed to leave Arizona for you, you were hot.  Not as hot as Arizona, but your other assets made me think that it would be okay.  At first, things were really good, but then you started running warm and cold.  Last Saturday, we were outside together all day, and it was beautiful.  Just a few days later though, you were so cold to me that I didn’t want to go outside.  You really made me feel like you didn’t want me around.

Meanwhile, Arizona is as predictable as ever.  Yes, I’ve continued seeing Arizona, but you have to understand, we have a history together.  Just because I visit doesn’t mean I don’t want our relationship to work.  I do, but you have to work with me here.  If I only knew what to expect, if you weren’t so moody, I’d feel better.

I mean, it’s not like you’re Pennsylvania.  That is one cold beotch right there.

I’m not saying you have to be hot all the time.  I love you even when you let yourself go a little over the winter.  The grass needs a trim and the leaves are mostly gone on the trees.  I’m okay with that; I gained a few pounds over the holidays.  Just… I’d like to know where I stand.

Is that too much to ask?



Groundhog Day

On Motivational Mondays, I normally share something short to start the week.  I’m going to do that, but then you’ll get bonus content for Groundhog Day.

“Don’t look back; you’re not going that way.”

-Author Unknown

What I like about this quote is that it encourages us all to live today.  We’ve all made mistakes, and while we can’t undo those mistakes, we can move on with our lives.  Even if we’ve hurt someone, we can make the choice to take responsibility and move on.  So remember your past, but don’t live there.

th-1Speaking of living in the past, we went to see Groundhog Day in the Alamo on Sunday afternoon.  Now, that’s a great movie!   People gather annually on February 2 in Punxsutawney, PA to see Punxsutawney Phil.  If he sees his shadow, there’ll be six more weeks of winter weather. If he doesn’t see his shadow, there will be an early spring.

The 1993 movie Groundhog Day used this festive occasion as the backdrop for the story of another Phil, a TV weather reporter and modern day grinch.  Phil is one of those guys who nothing suits.  He mostly just wants to be miserable but have people admire him and look up to him.

Spoilers ahead!  You’ve been warned.  (The movie is from 1993; if you haven’t seen it by now, don’t you think it’s time?)

For some reason, Phil ends up living Groundhog Day over and over in an endless loop.  At first, he wastes his time, eating junk food, drinking a lot, and doing whatever he wants.  After awhile, he decides to start killing himself.  When that doesn’t work, he works on bettering himself through knowledge and hobbies.  In the final phase of his development, he works on being a better person, helping out people in the town and generally making himself loved.

I like this movie because it shows a transformation of the man from total jerk to really great guy.  I believe that in life, we’re all presented with the same lesson over and over until we learn something.  Of course, I’ve never lived the same day over and over, but that’s essentially the message I take away from this movie.  Phil had something important to learn, and it took him a long time, but he eventually did.

When life presents you with a challenging circumstance, you have options on how to handle it.  My favorite way is to ask myself: What am I supposed to learn from this?  When I turn a bad situation into a learning experience, it seems to make it easier and more manageable.  After all, the sooner I learn that lesson, the sooner I can move onto the next lesson.

Have you seen Groundhog Day?  What are your thoughts on the movie, or on life’s lessons?


Rain, Guy Fawkes, and Me

Cedar Park, Texas Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Cedar Park, Texas
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I think that when you’re from an area that gets regular rain, you tend to take it for granted.

I get up in Pennsylvania, and we got rainstorms and thunderstorms, especially in the summer.  We had times when it would rain for a week straight.  It rained the day my sister in law got married in 2004, and the next day, the place where she got married experienced a 100 year flood, and was literally underwater.

When we moved to Arizona, I was excited by the idea of living where it doesn’t rain.  People leave things outside and leave their car windows down because… it really doesn’t rain.

At first, not having to use my wipers was a cool novelty, and I liked that pretty much every day was sunny.  I liked the long days and the baking heat.

Eventually, I started to miss the rain.  One of my favorite quotes is from V for Vendetta (appropriate for the 5th of November… Happy Guy Fawkes day, incidentally).  “God is in the rain.”

I’m not sure why I like that quote, other than that I’ve always felt a spiritual connection with the rain.  I love the sound and the smell.  I love the way it makes colors brighter.  I love how it washes everything clean.  I don’t even mind getting rained on.  (I do not love how I have to wipe dirty dog paws after they’ve been outside, but everything has a price.)

Texas had been in a drought, but we’ve gotten a lot of rain since I’ve been here, and for that, I’m very grateful.    Rain makes me want to sit in my house with a cup of coffee, and just write with no other sounds than the music of nature.  I have a window open just enough so I can hear, and I’m facing my big windows, which let me see outside.

What are your thoughts on rain?

Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Til It’s Gone

Desert Botanical Gardens; Phoenix AZ Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Desert Botanical Gardens; Phoenix AZ
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I never realized how true that was until I moved to Arizona.  At first, I loved the baking heat (dry heat is really different), the comforting stretches of brown, and the sameness of everything.  The last few years I lived in Pennsylvania were chaotic, and the fact that everything was different than I was used to but looked so uniform comforted me.  We lived in Arizona for 7 years, and it was a really good 7 years.  I got my Master’s Degree, met my best friend, my partner, and found a kindred spirit.  Finding three friends who are “keepers” is always a beautiful thing.

Texas looks a lot like Pennsylvania (at least the part we’ll be living in).  It’s got rolling hills, lots of green, and frequent summer thunderstorms.  My arthritis doesn’t bother me so much here in Arizona, but I didn’t really know how much my heart yearned for green until I learned that I’ll soon be living in it again.

When I left PA seven years ago, I couldn’t wait to get away.  I didn’t look back and wasn’t sad to leave it behind.  The timing was right, and I obviously had something to learn.  It’s going to be with great sadness that I leave Arizona, as it’s been very good to me.  I’m taking away far more than I could have anticipated, and I’ll always be connected to this place.

I’m glad I moved to Arizona and had time to appreciate what I left behind.  Now, I’m heading to the next adventure!

-Hunter S Thompson

-Hunter S Thompson


Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ Photo credit: Doree Weller

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ
Photo credit: Doree Weller

While the rest of the world welcomes spring (and in parts of the US, they still have some snow), here in Arizona, we’re already baking.  Temperatures have hit 100 and the flowers are already dying.  Spring, if you can call it that, happens so fast here that I barely have time to notice it.

In Pennsylvania, we had a spring whose length of time varied.  Sometimes it lasted a long time, and the crocuses were often up by Easter.  Sometimes the spring was shorter, but always there.  I never realized how much I’d miss having 4 distinct seasons until I moved somewhere that didn’t have them.  That’s the way of it, though.  When you’re living through something, it’s easy to take for granted, because it’s always been that way.

When I first moved here, the brown seemed soothing, and the sameness seemed clean and relaxing.  It still seems that way, but I miss the quirky personality of the jumble created by all the differences back East.  Some houses are new, some are old, but they don’t match one another.  There are greens and browns and purples and blues and reds.  It’s like an abstract painting rather than a landscape sometimes.

I throw open my windows and enjoy the fleeting spring for as long as I can out here.  For in the rest of the world, it may still be spring, but in Arizona, we’ve moved on to summer.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

5 015This one is coming at a perfect time for me.  My parents just moved from my childhood home in PA to near me in AZ.  I didn’t think too much about how I’d feel about them selling it, until they did.  Not only did they move, but it’s under contract and probably going to sell soon.  Yes, of course things have to change, and it’s a good thing that they’re here.  I love living in AZ, though I do miss a lot of things about home.  (Pennsylvania will always be home to me)

I love my new home… but it sure is a lot different!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Purple

In the desert, we so seldom see any real color on the ground.  During springtime, flowers do sprout, and for a few weeks, the cacti have pops of color.  Most of the time, the landscape is mostly brown and red, with spots of low green.  However, the sky is one place where we see color; I try to forget that it’s a direct result of the pollution in the area and just appreciate that it’s pretty.

As a bonus, here’s a picture I took while I was in PA.  I was outside and looked up at the creepy sky.  Between the full moon, the trees, and the way the sky looked purple, I took maybe a dozen pictures, trying to get this one right.  This was the best I managed.  Not perfect, but still creepy.

Visiting Home

I lived in Pennsylvania until 5 years ago, when a job offer for my husband sent us to Arizona.

There are many things I love about Arizona, and many things I miss about Pennsylvania.  I don’t miss the humidity.  At all.  However, I miss many things that go along with the humidity.  Tall, leafy green trees.  Streams and rivers.  RAIN.  I went to Dorney Park with a friend, and it rained while we were there.  She ducked under it and tried to stay dry.  I soaked it up.

One of the things I miss most about living in Arizona is my dog.  When I moved out, she couldn’t adjust, and ended up staying with my parents.  She’s 13 1/2 years old, pretty ancient for a dog her size.  We shared a Rita’s gelati (another thing that AZ doesn’t have).

I’m getting ready to fly back to AZ today, and I’m happy to be going home, but I’m also going to miss PA.  I’m not sure when I’ll be back.  It’s hard to leave home.  PA will always be home, no matter how much I love AZ.