Posted in Mrs. Idealist, Uncategorized

Road Trip to the Native State Continued…

I find that flowers have the unique ability to reach into your soul and plant a seed of happiness there. Their beauty demands to be smiled at. That is why Olbrich Gardens  was the first place we visited when we got to Wisconsin. Olbrich Gardens is a little slice of paradise in the midst of the busy city of Madison. I grew up getting lost in that magical paradise of flowers, but I think I am even more amazed by its beauty now than I ever was before.

Rose Garden

Olbrich Gardens is made up of many different gardens put together in a seamless piece of art. It feels as if you are walking in a fantasy world as you enter the Rose Garden (my definite favorite) filled with all sorts of blooming roses, fountains and in the center, a tall tower to overlook the garden. I remember running up the tower as a child and feeling like a princess looking over her kingdom. This time I walked up the tower slowly, looking at everything I could and trying to remember every little detail. I was visiting an old friend and I wanted to take my time.

The Thai Garden is another one of my favorite sections in Olbrich Gardens. In it there is a beautiful pavilion painted in reds and golds. The structure is common in Thailand, used for shelter from rain or heat, though the one at Olbrich is perhaps more elaborate than the common shelters found along the roadside in Thailand. Two years ago when we last visited Olbrich Gardens, I did a

My handstand in the Thai Pavilion

handstand inside the pavilion and Mrs. Idealist took a picture of it. So this visit we decided to do the same thing. People looked at me curiously as I slipped off my shoes and did a handstand in the middle of the Thai pavilion, but the picture was taken and a tradition begun.

As we walked through the gardens, the animals seemed to know that I had a camera. They all came out from their hiding places to pose for their picture, not deterred at all by the presence of humans. I snapped as many pictures as I could before moving on to the next garden. It felt much too early when we had to leave and I stalled in the last garden, not wanting to say goodbye to the fantastical world of flowers. But I know that it won’t be the last time I see Olbrich Gardens. I will visit it again…someday. I left there feeling much brighter and happier than when I had arrived because of the little seed the flowers had planted in my heart.

“The park proposed is intended primarily to bring back into the life of the worker confronted by the dismal industrial tangle, whose forces we all so little comprehend, something of the grace and beauty that nature intended us all to share. For this park has not a passive, but an active function. It is not to stand aloof, a treasure of the city, beautiful, still, reserved. This park above all others, with a warmth and strength of love – of love of all the working world – should hold out its arms, should invite them to itself, until its naturalness and beauty enter into their lives.”

~Michael Olbrich (Founder of Olbrich Gardens)


Posted in Mrs. Idealist, Uncategorized

Road Trip to the Native State

I recently returned from a trip to my native state, Wisconsin. Mrs. Idealist drove all the way there in a rented black Jeep Patriot. The fourteen hour trip was completed in two days, our halfway stop in the flat wasteland of Illinois. If you’re from Illinois I mean no offense, but honestly, where is the variety of landscape? Everything is horizontal and there is nothing to add interest to the land. There are no rolling hills or tall mountains. The wind has no barrier to stop it from biting you with its sharp teeth. And then there is Chicago, the bane of all drivers actually trying to go somewhere. As we passed through that crowded and dirty place, I prayed a silent thank you to God that I live in the beautiful state of North Carolina.

For the whole car trip I was the assigned DJ, of course playing the eternally classic songs from Disney.The Lion King was among one of our top favorite playlists to sing along to and not too far behind was Mulan. I did play a few new hits, as well as some old ones and I’m pretty sure that by the time we had completed the entire trip (28 hours there and back again), we had thoroughly covered every genre ever created.

By the time we reached Wisconsin, we had gone through a mega-sized bag of pretzels, a box of animal crackers that looked strangely deformed and not to mention what we ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And though I had missed the sign when we entered Wisconsin and didn’t realize that we had crossed the border until we had been driving in Wisconsin for an hour, I felt a wonderful feeling of joy to be back in the place where I grew up. And while it couldn’t compare in beauty or friendliness to the Carolinas, I was glad to able to visit it again and to remember the places I used to travel so often without realizing how special they were to me until they were gone. Sometimes leaving a place is the only way to realize how much it matters to you.


To be continued…


Posted in Uncategorized

Aiming Towards a Simplistic Lifestyle

Simplicity.My parents have been saying that word for ages. What do they mean by it? The necessities. They want to sell or trash all the excess furniture, anything that is not necessary to keep around or is sitting useless in our garage and attic. They’ve been trying for a simplistic lifestyle for almost seven years. The problem is that we kept moving from house to house. Nearly every two years we would have to move, and as a consequence, my parents were afraid to give away anything that we might eventually need.

Now however, my parents can finally have the simplistic lifestyle that they have always talked about. After seven years, we finally own a home of our own and so they  don’t have to be afraid of getting rid of whatever we don’t need at this moment. Today we started the long journey towards simplicity and hauled two carloads of junk to the dump. It is only the beginning, but hopefully in the end, we will reach our goal.


Picture from:


Posted in Uncategorized

The Smell of Books

Books are lined neatly upon bookshelves, row upon row of them and yet they have no smell. This has always bothered me. How can so many books not have any smell? The smell is the character of the book, the thing that makes you want to pick one up. But the books from the public library are scentless. The pages are new, crisp and stiff. There are no bent or stained pages nor any pages yellowed by use and age. They have no life in them yet, no soul. How can you know that a book is good unless you can see its soul? How can you be intrigued unless you can see the story within the story-the story of the reader?  Some people may prefer the stark white pages, pristine and untouched by time, but I prefer the books that smell, the books that have been read so many times that their binding is falling off and their pages are torn and bent. That is where the story is. That is the soul of the book.

Posted in Mr. Rock, Mrs. Idealist

This One’s for My Parents

The sky is quickly darkening and my orchestra conductor glances at it worriedly. An outside concert is always risky, but it’s tradition. My orchestra has been holding an outside concert by the lake for almost 60 years. We finish rehearsing our last piece, but we still have 45 minutes until the concert. We aren’t going to make it before the rain. Rain would ruin the instruments before we would even have time to put them in their cases. The conductor looks at the small crowd of parents that stayed through the rehearsal. There are probably only twenty parents there for more than a hundred kids in the orchestra, but he has no choice.

“We will start the concert early, before the rain hits.” My short conductor calls to the onlooking parents. “America the Beautiful.” He whispers to us and we hurriedly pull up the music.

I look out into the crowd. My parents aren’t here. There is no way for me to tell them that the concert is starting 45 minutes early. The conductor raises his arms. I raise my violin. The music starts and my parents aren’t here to hear it. In between every song I look into the growing crowd. Thunder booms overhead as we start our last song and I look one last time into the audience. Mr. Rock and Mrs. Idealist are just walking up. “At least they will be able to hear the last song,” I think. And with that in mind, I play my best. Even though I am probably drowned out by the thirty other violinists and won’t be heard, I play my best for my parents. As we play our last note of “Stars and Stripes” and the drums roll, the thunder decides to give us a, well, thunderous applause.

The musicians hurry off the stage to put their instruments away. I say a quick goodbye to my friends (I won’t see them again until the fall) and hurry over to my parents. Soon after I get into our car, the raindrops hit. We made it just in time.

I am glad that my parents were able to hear at least one song at my last concert of the year. And while Mr. Rock and Mrs. Idealist are sad that they weren’t able to hear the whole concert, I think it made me realize how much I appreciate them being there for me. The whole concert I was worried that they would miss it completely. Their presence meant a lot to me and I am so thankful that they are always there for me.