Category Archives: Trips

Family Vacation – Day 1

We’ve just recently returned from our family vacation and I have a lot to report on! So, I’ll be doing a blog post to cover each day, along with additional blog posts on my genealogy blog for those events that are more genealogy related.

We were fortunate to be able to have all the boys with us for the vacation and I could not have been happier.  The boys are 14, 12, 11, & 8 now and it had been a year since we have all been together.  Kaleya of course was right up in the midst of everything they were doing and enjoyed being with all of her brothers.

Our trip started on Saturday morning, August 1 with us leaving Nashville to go to Evansville to pick up Kamau & Miles.  Unlike many of our trips to Evansville, we actually left pretty early and arrived around noon.  When we got there, Kamau & Miles were at a local church taking a cooking class.  Kamau is interested in going to culinary school and apparently they’ve been cooking with the church group all summer. The boys made Spicy Chili Mac w/ the help of Granny Kit-Kat and took it over to the church. After everyone had their dishes together, the group sat down to “sample” the food 🙂

Here is Miles as he gets some macaroni & cheese another church member made

Meanwhile, I was keen to note that the church we were at was VERY close to the Evansville Public Library. Since I was hoping that I could spend some time at the library to do some genealogy research, this was the perfect opportunity to ask Kalonji if he’d drop me off. He obliged and I spent several hours looking up dead people. It was great! Read my genealogy blog for more details.

That evening we relaxed with the family. Kalonji gave Miles a haircut and of course Kaleya had to try and help.

Notice that she and Kalonji are wearing matching t-shirts? Hip Hop Harry is a show that Kaleya started watching a couple of years ago.  Rap is used as an educational tool and the guy who plays Hip Hop Harry is the same one that did Barney.  Kalonji ordered matching tees for the two of them so now whenever one wants to wear it, the other has to as well :-). It’s kinda cute.

The rest of the evening was spent relaxing in preparation for our road trip on Sunday.

My Trip to Portland

Today I have come back home after a trip to Portland, Oregon.  I was in Portland to attend the National Library of Medicine Informatics Training Conference.  The National Libray of Medicine provides funding for 18 educational institutions in the U.S., who in turn fund students to pursue education and research in informatics (bioinformatics, clinical informatics, public health informatics, imaging informatics, library informatics and more).   My institution, Vanderbilt University, is one of the schools that receives the fundings and it is through this program that I am able to pursue my MPH degree.   Once a year, the NLM brings together all the trainees for an annual meeting as an opportunity to get to meet one another and become aware of the various research and projects being undertaken.  Our hosts for the meeting was Oregon Health &  Science University (OHSU)  in Portland.

After two very full Southwest flights to get there, I arrived in Portland Monday evening.  I stayed at the Hilton downtown, which offered great accommodations.  I was quite tired so ended up ordering room service rather than venture out anywhere.   From my hotel room, I had a good view of one of the hillsides in the area.

On Tuesday, our meeting activities started bright and early, with buses at the hotel to take us to the OHSU campus at 6am.  The OHSU campus has a prime location – they sit at the top of Marquam Hill, which offers a stunning view of the city of Portland.  I was not able to find a recent picture that I felt showed the height of the campus well enough with all of its extensive development now, but here is an image from the OHSU Library Digital Archives of the campus in the 1920s.  From this, you can clearly see their positioning at the top of the hill.

After a good morning session of presentations and posters (I’ll post later about them), it was time for lunch.  Our visit to the campus happened to coincide with the campus Farmer’s Market.  Vanderbilt has a Farmer’s Market too, but theirs was more extensive – they had many tables set up with items ranging from fruits, veggies, bbq, gifts, candy even!

They also had performers playing live music.  It was lovely, and we all ate lunch out on one of the campus lawns. This was the view from where I was sitting, on the steps of MacKenzie Hall.

After lunch, there were more sessions. To leave the OHSU campus, I took the Aerial Tram – this was definitely a major highlight of the trip! The tram goes back and forth from the top of the hill down to the bottom, where I took the streetcar back to the hotel. The views from the top were absolutely stunning. From there, you can also see the omnipresent Mt. Hood off in the distance.

Of course, my photos don’t even do it justice. As we rode down the tram, Mt. St. Helens also comes into view. Can you imagine that? All that scenery, plus two mountain off in the distance? Gorgeous!

That evening, I went out to dinner with my friend Aimee. We went to Library school together and she is a teen librarian in the area now. We have not seen each other in 7 years, so of course it was good to see her! We ate Mexican and then afterwards she took me to Voodoo Donut, a Portland tradition – a place known for its outrageous donuts.  Tell me, did I really need to eat The Old Dirty Bastard (chocolate, oreos and peanut butter) and the Marshall Mathers donuts?

As Kelli said, these were heart attacks waiting to happen. But, they were good 🙂

On Wednesday, there were more conference activities, and after I left I had planned to go back to the hotel for a restful last night.  However, as I was taking the streetcar back (and yes, I took the tram down again), I saw the stop for the Multonomah County Central Library, and it was very near my hotel.  So, I hopped off and had to visit.

And what a great visit it was!  First of all, the library is absolutely gorgeous!  It is the oldest library west of the Mississippi with this particular building erected in 1913. It has had a renovation since then and the interior is gorgeous.  When I walked in, I was immediately taken by the steps of the grand staircase.  They are a deep black with engravings and words etched into them.  The design was created by Larry Kirkland and is called “Garden Stair,” however, I’ve had difficulty finding any good pictures of it online. I knew I should have taken some myself, but my camera battery was dying. I did get a postcard, so I took a picture of the postcard.

I did not make it over to the Children’s section, but there is a big tree there and the room is named for Beverly Cleary, who is from Oregon.  I can’t tell you how many of her Ramona books I read growing up.  I didn’t find this out until I was leaving, but if I’d realized this, I would have looked around there too.

I quickly made my way to the periodicals section as I was there on a mission.  I will post more about that on my genealogy blog.   Free wi-fi access made for a comfortable few hours there before I headed back to my hotel room.

Thursday morning, I overslept so left the hotel in quite the hurry, but I really did enjoy my brief stay.  Mabye next time I’ll get to stay longer.  While I’ve put plenty of pictures in this post, I have more in my photo album.

Aloha – Days 3 & 4

I’m writing this post after having returned home, but I wanted to chronicle my 3rd day in Hawaii, Monday, May 18th. We went to Pearl Harbor to visit the USS Arizona Memorial and that took most of the morning, so I wanted to blog about the trip. I desperately wanted to visit Pearl Harbor because one of my great-uncles served in WWII during this time and spent time there. He was only two days off from actually having been there during the attack and was on several navy ships involved in the campaigns subsequent to the Pearl Harbor attack. I have more about it on my genealogy blog for those who may be interested.

Our trip to the memorial went smoothly.  We took the bus from the hotel there, a trip that lasted a little more than an hour.  It was nice to take the bus though because we were able to see some of the city.  We arrived at 8:45 and got tickets for the 9:45 tour.  While waiting we spent time looking at the exhibits on site – there were all kinds of displays up that help in understanding the events of that day.  From the visitor’s center, you can see the USS Arizona memorial across the water.



From Hawaii 2009

At the start of the tour, we watched a documentary that was about 25 minutes long. It was highly interesting and informative and I want to see if I can buy the documentary.  Then, we were taken on a ferry across the water out to the memorial.

From Hawaii 2009

 The memorial was well set up and very respectful in setting.  It astounds me to think that more than 1100 men died almost instaneously as the ship was struck and sunk.   The memorial is positioned over the sunken ship but parts of the ship appear above water.  This is a picture of one of the gun torrents that is above the water.

From Hawaii 2009

 I am glad that I visited, it was a moving experience for me.  Now, after leaving the memorial, they ferry you back over to the visitor’s center.  We were short on time, so I did not stop back in the bookstore, but when I’d browsed earlier, there were a couple of books that I thought I may be interested in getting, so I’ll be sure to look them up. 

After getting back to the hotel, I was off to the conference for some official work stuff, and then in the afternoon did some school work.  For dinner though, we trekked to a hotel further down Wakiki Beach for Korean.  

The street we walked down, Kalakaua Avenue , to get there was crazy – one of my co-workers mentioned it was like Rodeo drive.  There were all kind of name brand shops as well as other interesting places like an International Market. We ended up at the Waikiki Resort Hotel for dinner at Seoul Jung Restaurant.

From Hawaii 2009

One of my coworkers is 1/4 Korean so she was able to explain the various dishes to us. I selected Kalbi Jjim for dinner, which was like a pot roast stew – it was good and it was hot!  It was boiling when they brought it out – I had to take a video of it.  Play the video clip to see it boiling.


After dinner, it was then time to head back to the hotel room and prepare for the presentation I had to do on Tuesday.  The presentation described some of the iniatives we have ongoing at my library and I shared with the attendees specifically our work on integrating our information resources into our informatics tools and systems.  Feedback was good I understand though I had to leave right away to catch my flight.  But, on the official MLA blog, a very positive post was made about our presentation that you can read here

So, after the presentation I came home – my flight was long and up until the end was good.  Towards the end of the first leg my ears refused to pop so pressure started to build up.  Between legs it started to subside, but started again with my last leg back to Nashville.  Have you ever had sustained pressure build up over several hours of flying? It is a horrible, horrible experience.   Even after getting off the plane the pressure was still pretty intense and it made me sick to my stomach.  I had to come home and sleep the pressure and pain was so bad.  

Overall though, the trip was good and I’m grateful for the chance to have gone and participated in the conference and see some of Hawaii.  Next month I’m off to Portland, Oregan for another business trip, and hopefully a side trip to San Francisco to visit a friend.

Aloha – Day 2


It is almost noon on Monday, May 18th as I write this blog post, but here in lovely Hawaii, it is only 6:40am.  Yesterday was my 2nd day here and the fun continued!

I spent most of the morning working on school work. I am a full-time student after all, so being in Hawaii doesn’t even release me from my student responsibilities :-).  For lunch, I joined my coworkers at a nearby restaurant for dim sum.  I’m not sure exactly what I ate, but it was all good.  On the way to the restaurant, I passed this statue in front of the convention center

From Hawaii 2009


The statue represents the welcoming spirit of the Hawaiin people.  After lunch I headed to the convention center to look through the exhibits some more, and then had a massage courtesy of one of the vendors.  I so needed that massage – it felt great.  It was a little painful and my coworker tells me that is b/c I have a lot of tension that needs releasing. I agree 🙂 I must figure out a way to get another one. 

In the afternoon it was back to more school work but along the way back to the hotel I took more pictures.  The hotel has a village feel w/ a lot of open areas and spaces, so there is plenty to take pictures of.

From Hawaii 2009

  After getting more accomplished, it was time to head to the luau hosted by one of our vendors, OVID.  When I stopped by my coworkers room, I had to take a picture of their view of the ocean.  Absolutely gorgeous!

From Hawaii 2009  

  Then, we headed over to the luau.  They gave us leis made of fresh flowers too.

From Hawaii 2009

  The luau itself was fun – the food was good. I even ate a Hawaiin Purple Sweet Potato.  The purple sweet potatoes are native to Okinawa and in Hawaii are known as ‘uala. It was very good.  You can see what they look like by going here.  Entertainment for the evening was by way of a group of Polynesian dancers then a band performed several songs too.  I took  some video clips — one of the group dancing and then one of the guy w/ fire they also had.   Here is the group of polynesian dancers – I’ll put the fire guy up later.

Then, afterwards, came back and went to bed. I as pooped!  This morning however, we are going over to see Pearl Harbor, which I am very much looking forward to for family/genealogy reasons.  I will share more on that later.  I did add more pictures to my photo album, so if you looked once, look again! You can see them here.

Aloha! Day 1

From Hawaii 2009

Aloha! I am in the lovely state of Hawaii for a professional conference and so far so good :-).  By central time, I have been awake for almost 24 hours now. By Hawaii time, it is only midnight. 

I flew in to Denver, then to Honolulu.  Total flight time – about 11 hours. So, by the time it was all said in done, when I arrived at the hotel it was about 9pm at home (central time). I’d left the Nashville airport at 8am Central Time.  The flights themselves were okay. I slept most of the way, but got in quite a bit of reading of a medical/political thriller book I picked up in the aiport, Michael Palmer’s First Patient.  I also purchased James McBride’s latest book, Song Yet Sung,  though I don’t expect to read it right away. 

Once at the hotel, the Hawaii Hilton, I checked in, got settled and waited for my bag. Yes, my bag did not make it all the way with me, but it got oh so close!  Turned out that a person took my bag mistakenly at the 1st hotel that the hotel shuttle stopped at.  My hotel was the 2nd.  The guy who took my suitcase called and let them know, so they were able to go back to get it and bring it back to me (directly to my hotel room) within about 90 minutes.  I’d much prefer this situation rather than my bag not making it with me to Honolulu.  🙂

After a quick visit over to the convention center to register and attend the welcome reception, my coworkers and I began to get ready for the dinner cruise one of the vendors was hosting.  Buffett dinner on a cruise ship w/ live entertainment (singers & hula dancers)- it was fun!

I’ve got some pics of views from my hotel room window & some of the hula dancers from tonight.  TO SEE MORE PICTURES, VISIT MY ONLINE PHOTO ALB UM. I expect to be adding more pics as the days continue. 

Ta ta for now!

Visiting Fisk

Family Fest – Day 3

Today we went to Fisk and had an incredible day. I have a new appreciation for the history of the institution and all that it symbolizes. We took the kids there so they start to understand the importance and significance of having an education.

We got to campus at 10am and were treated to a tour by a student with an intriguing background – W.J. (we’ll call him), is a double major in history and religion and a minor in secondary education. He was an awesome tour guide – extremely knowledgeable and exactly the kind of tour guide we hoped we’d have. If I were to post about everything we learned today, I’d have a post five pages long!

Fisk was established in 1866 and was the first post-civil war education institution for blacks. We started in Cravath Hall, which used to be the original library. Built by masons, the building looks the same from all directions and has masonic images over the doorway.

W.J. then took us over to the Fisk Chapel where performances by the who’s who of black history have performed and lectured. The Chapel is a beautiful structure and we learned that when a royal patriarch in Ghana learned that Fisk did not have the money to finish construction, he literally took the roof off of his residence and sent it over to Fisk with his architects. Also, the Chapel is made from stone and mahogany wood which do not burn, so whenever there was a threat to the students on campus, they would go into the Chapel into rooms hidden among the roof of the chapel.

W.J. informed us that Miles Davis had once performed there, so of course I had to take a picture of Miles standing in front.

We then walked over to Jubilee Hall, the original building on campus and the one built with the funds raised by the Jubilee Singers. Along the way we passed by this painting on the ground done by Nikki Giovanni when she was a senior at Fisk, and now the tradition is that each year, the senior class repaints it.

Jubilee Hall is a great structure, built on what was the highest hill in Nashville and the original location where slaves were sold. Jubilee Hall was the first permanent structure in the country built exclusively for the purpose of educating blacks.

The first floor of Jubilee Hall is maintained in original condition for the most part b/c it is a National Historic Landmark. Inside, the original painting of the Jubilee Singers is housed in a meeting room. That meeting room also has beams in the room that were taken from an Austrian castle built in the 1300s. Amazing.

At this point, W.J. departed from us and we went off to lunch. We came back to the campus after lunch to visit a colleague of mine at the Fisk Library and we viewed the art in the Aaron Douglass gallery on the 3rd floor of the library. Also on the 3rd floor was a collection of sketches by Cyrus Baldridge, who walked across Africa with his wife in the 1930s and made sketches of those he interacted with.

There was so much more to our visit but these were some of the highlights. Pictures from yesterday’s visit to the TN State Museum are here, and pictures from Fisk are here.

Tonight, we got the boys watching the first half of Roots. Further education for them. Tomorrow we’ll finish. No other major plans than that and running some errands.

Family Fun Day 2

Family Fest – Day 1 & 2
This week we have all the kids! (I have four stepsons in case you didn’t know) for a week of family fun. 

Yesterday we had a very leisurely morning – not really stirring until around 9 or so (well, them — i myself did not get up until about 11!). We headed out to run a couple of errands (including vehicle registration, which if I had only known about the new online option last week I could have avoided).

[Kaleya & Miles at the county clerk office.]

Then, we decided to go to the TN State Museum, however, I failed to realize that the museum is not open on Mondays. Instead, we went to the public library for some time, then hit a local used bookstore to pick up some of our own books, went grocery shopping and came home.

[Walking downtown.]

Last night, the boys are watched the movie Pride about a black swim team that came out last year. It chronicles the story of Jim Ellis, a swim coach who started the first black swim team. The team was based out of a recreation center in Philadelphia. I watched this with Kalonji a couple of weeks ago and it is definitely worth watching.

This morning, we went to our local Regal Cinemas and were able to see Bee Movie for free due to a program they run in the summer for showing free movies. We had all seen it before, but it was fun to see it on the big screen again. The movie theater was packed to!

After having lunch at home, we then took the kids to the Tennessee State Museum. This was my first time going, despite all the years I’ve lived here and I was pleasantly surprised. There were a good number of exhibits — all of them well done. We asked the kids to take turns reading from the exhibits and discussing what was presented. I actually learned quite a bit about some of the history of early Tennessee and the cities here. Also, learned more about some of the lifestyle conditions of the people in Tennessee from the early frontier days to early 1900s.

[Kaleya next to a bench carved by Davy Crockett. ] 

[everyone watches a short educational film]

Tomorrow we go to take them on a tour of Fisk. We got them started early as they had to read the plates that went along with each item in the collection. 

[Miles reads about the Fisk Jubilee singers.]

Not sure what tomorrow necessarily brings after the tour – possibly visit BiCentennial Mall for a minute or Fort Negley, then I’d love to get some swimming in for them; we’ll see.



Back From Chicago

This weekend was my professional organization’s annual conference. This year it was in Chicago. It was a very quick trip, I flew in on Saturday and flew out Sunday evening, but though it was short, I was quite busy the whole time.

One thing I did get to do was meet more of my family. Sadly, my maternal grandmother’s youngest and last brother died on Mother’s Day. He lived in Chicago and the funeral coincidentally enough was on Saturday. While I did not get there in time to go to the funeral, I was able to visit with the family Saturday evening and I met his wife for the first time and his kids. I truly enjoyed the hours I was able to spend with them and though for the sad event, as with my paternal grandmother’s funeral two years ago I strongly felt that we must take advantage of these moments to re-connect with family.

While I did not get to do much else, I was able to walk to the nearby Millenium Park during lunch yesterday. This is a beautiful park. I especially enjoyed “the bean” – this big silver, shiny bean shaped sculpture that reflects the Chicago skyline when you look at it from the right angle. This is a picture off Flickr – this thing is GORGEOUS in person!!

Cholera & Nashville

This map (which I found from an online exhibit from the National Library of Medicine), is of Nashville in 1873 that shows a Cholera outbreak. Why do I post this? Because today I had a history lesson on Cholera in Nashville.

Today, a group of coworkers and I went to Traveller’s Rest, a plantation/museum here in town that was the home of Judge John Overton, a prominent figure in Nashville history. His home was also a base of operations during the last campaigns around the Battle of Nashville. I won’t go into the history of the battle, but I learned quite a bit about that today as well.

The reason for our visit was to see the Disease & Medicine exhibit they are currently hosting. Our library helped provide some of the information for the exhibit, so we received a few free passes. The group of us that went won them as a result of a drawing.

It was quite interesting. Apparently, cholera outbreaks in Nashville were very common throughout the entire 19th century and at one point, Nashville was the most dangerous city to live in because of these outbreaks. More dangerous than Calcutta, more dangerous than NYC. The outbreaks were so bad b/c of the very rapid growth of Nashville during this time which resulted in thousands of people living in very close quarters, disposal of wastes into alleyways, and germs being absorbed into the ground and eventually tainting the city’s water supply – the Cumberland River. Because medicine did not really understand bacteria at the time, it would just continue. The cure for cholera is rehydration but of course they were rehydrating with tainted water. Not good.

Overall, I’m glad I went. While I was there, they had a book in the gift shop that I almost purchased, but decided to hold off. It was a book that had many images representative of the history of blacks in Nashville. My interests in Nashville history are growing and I even found a connection with someone whom I’m helping in her genealogy research of ancestors from Nashville.

Lots of Movement

Since my last post, we have come back from out of town and left and come back again 🙂

The family reunion was wonderful! It was a lot of fun and I got to connect with more members of my stepmother’s family. It also spawned more work to do on her family tree! I’ve been blogging about that over on my Genealogy Blog.

Then, this past weekend, we went to take three of the boys back home. We have the youngest one still for the next 10 days or so. Then, Kalonji is being sent off to Florida to play soldier (he’s in the reserves) for 5 days. Then, after he gets back, we’ll celebrate his birthday (b/c he’ll be in the field during his birthday).

In stitching news – I continue to stitch! I don’t think I’ve done enough to warrant a new picture, but I am getting my time in.