(Not Even) Three Days in Geeksboro

How to make a mini-vacation in a place where you wouldn’t think such a thing is possible:

1. Take the time to go to a nice restaurant in the area. Fast food is fine when you’re on the road, but restaurants can make memories. Absent that, make a memory by just showing proof that you were there.

Family Selfie: Trish, Steven and John

Family Selfie: Trish, Steven and John

Here we are at The Chop House in High Point, NC. Steven likes steak, so why not? It was delicious, by the way, and fancy! They even put a purple flower on my plate:

Steak and mushrooms with purple flower

Steak and mushrooms with purple flower

(How did they manage to make my dinner match my hair?)

2. If the hotel has a pool, stop by, even if it’s just for a few minutes. It’s always more fun when you say you went swimming.

Steven swims while Trish knits

Steven swims while Trish knits

Did I mention? Always bring your knitting. You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish in hundreds of miles.

3. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast watching cartoons, if for no other reason than to block out the horrid news of that particular day:

Steven eats breakfast while watching cartoons tableside

Steven eats breakfast while watching cartoons tableside

4. Find your kindred spirits, go where they are, and embrace them. We can’t hide the fact that we’re nerds. We argue amongst ourselves that there are varying degrees of nerdiness, and that some in our family can raise the Geek Flag way higher than some others. But, we can’t escape it. It’s who we are, and we’re proud. So imagine finding out that Greensboro is actually quite the center for Geek Culture. We found a fun coffee house where “our people” hang:

Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema

Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema

Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema

Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema

Find your people:

Steven plays video gamesSteven plays video games

Steven plays video games

John shares stories with a coffeehouse patron

John shares stories with a coffeehouse patron

Partake of the cultural foods:

Caramel Bacon Cupcake

Caramel Bacon Cupcake

Can someone explain to me the geek culture/bacon connection? I don’t quite get it. But, when we got to the coffee house, and saw they had caramel bacon cupcakes in the dessert case, we had to try one! Or, at least I did. It was surprisingly yummy… it was an apple spice cake with salted caramel frosting and bacon on top. Not that I would eat this every day, but when in the land of geeks…

Wishing we could have been there for game night:

Wall of board games

Wall of board games

And don’t forget to take a family photo with the TARDIS on the way out!

Trish, John, and Steven with the TARDIS

Trish, John, and Steven with the TARDIS

5. Keep your eyes open, because when you’re headed to one specific place, you never know what else you’ll find along the way. In our case, there was an amazing comic book store right next to the coffee house, Acme Comics:

Acme Comics

Acme Comics

Acme Comics

Acme Comics

The boys are finding things they like in the comic book store

The boys are finding things they like in the comic book store

Group of campers visits the comic book store

Group of campers visits the comic book store

While we were in the comic book store, some kids from a local comic book day camp stopped in. They were able to browse and ask questions. One kid asked what was the biggest difference between comics of today, and vintage comics. The owner replied that today, comics are mostly produced by one person or a small group, using a computer, and that in the “olden days” it was a multi-step process involving lots of people working by hand. There was a book in the store that explained this process.

John and Steven found a comic book

John and Steven found a comic book

John and Steven found a comic book that they couldn’t pass up, which was a mashup of Doctor Who and Star Trek, the Next Generation. I’ve always heard that you’re not supposed to mess with the space-time continuum this way, but what do I know?

6. If you’re a knitter, follow the smell of yarn fumes. It will lead to magical places:

Gate City Yarns

Gate City Yarns

Gate City Yarns

Gate City Yarns

Gate City Yarns

Gate City Yarns

In Downtown Greensboro there is a thriving artist district, full of galleries and quaint shops and restaurants. This is where one would find Gate City Yarns, which contains a wide variety of yarns and spinning fibers. It is a lovely, comfortable shop with helpful staff and comfy couches, a spacious classroom in back (I peeked) and an atmosphere that just makes you want to hang out a while. I visited the shop on our trip to Greensboro last year, and it was well worth the return trip. Of course, if you’re not a knitter or crocheter or spinner, then waiting around while your loved one shops isn’t really a hardship there:

This is how John and Steven shop for yarn.

This is how John and Steven shop for yarn.

7. Find a restaurant with character to have lunch, instead of eating fast food, and enjoy it.

The nice lady at the yarn store recommended a tavern called Liberty Oak for lunch, and it was yummy! It was a nice place that offered outdoor seating. It was a nice day and not too hot, so why not? Here we are:

Trish, Steven and John

Trish, Steven and John

Trish and John

Trish and John

I have to say I had one of the best sandwiches I’d ever eaten:

Sandwich and fruit

Sandwich and fruit

The sandwich consisted of smoked turkey, Granny Smith apples, sprouts, and bleu cheese/walnut spread on toasted raisin bread. And a lovely assortment of fresh fruit. My mouth is still watering; it was delicious!

8. Don’t forget the real reason you headed to a place like Greensboro to start with. For us, it was that our daughter was participating in the UNC Greensboro Summer Music Camp, and there was a recital on the last day, that we did not want to miss. Diana was first chair flute this year, and had the honor of performing two solos, one on flute, and the other on piccolo. Here is one piece in which Diana had a solo. It’s called “Song for Lyndsay.” As you’re looking at the stage, Diana is to the right of the conductor with the bun in her hair:

Here are some other images from that wonderful event:


As an aside, if you have a kid who participates in instrumental music, vocal music, or piano, we cannot recommend UNC Greensboro’s Summer Music Camp highly enough. The experience is superb, the music is fantastic, and your kid will come away with an experience to remember forever. We are so proud that Diana was able to participate for two years.

9. When in the South, you must eat at Cracker Barrel. The Old Country Store is full of entertaining things:


As you can see, we crammed a LOT into our little trip to Greensboro. Maybe someday soon, we’ll go back and actually set a spell, as my grandfather would have said. Maybe we’ll even stay awhile. We kinda fit right in. :)

Renaissance Boy

Steven, playing clarinet while sitting in his favorite tree.

Steven, playing clarinet while sitting in his favorite tree.

I’ve been bragging on Facebook about my daughter a lot lately, so today it’s my son’s turn in the spotlight. He’s very bright, a little quirky, and he waves the geek flag very proudly. He’s a mostly straight-A student, who plays the clarinet, has made a point to get over the feeling of stage fright because he loves dancing, singing and acting, and he can go head-to-head with his math geek math teacher at chess, and win.

What I did not know, until yesterday, is that he is also a budding poet. He has an assignment in his Language Arts class to create a book of his favorite poems. He can include stuff from famous poets, stuff he’s read in class, and even people he knows or his own poems. So he decided yesterday to write a poem of his own. And he sat down, and did this, in almost no time.

Perhaps he has a future as a greeting card writer? Maybe…. when he’s done writing mathematical theorems or starring in this one-man off-off-Broadway show.

THE FOUR SEASONS

Spring, a time of new beginnings,
A time for life and a time for living,
The time when the new bird sings,
With flowers, bees, all sorts of things!
With pollen stirring through the air,
Oh, springtime! So wonderful and fair.

Summer’s next, coming with overwhelming heat,
When the kids run around the fields with just their bare feet,
And the greatest way to stay refreshed and cool,
Is just relaxing by the pool.
The little kids play without a care,
It’s summertime! With plenty of heat to share.

Next is fall, or autumn if you’d please
When the wind blows, and leaves fall with ease,
With colors of red, brown, and orange,
Oh, I forgot! Nothing rhymes with orange!
Piles of leaves stacked up so tall and fair,
It is fall! And people celebrate everywhere.

Last is winter, which is when you hear
Yuletide carols from through the years,
For it’s the season of giving, and you should know,
That it is Christmas, with the ground covered in snow.
The year is nearly gone, but do not despair,
A new year is coming, with a new hope and a new prayer.

By: Steven Day

I’ve Seen the Light!

I’m going to geek out a little in this post.

If you know me, you know I love my camera almost as much as I love knitting and yarn. I’m always striving to take better pictures. I am not a photographer, nor will I ever be, though very rarely my photos do get used in the context of my day job. I like it when opportunities to be creative present themselves.

There is a problem, though, in that I have always hated working with flash. When possible I prefer natural light, or nice, bright indoor light. However, in today’s energy-conscious world, fluorescent lighting is the norm, which, if you take pictures, you know, is the definition of UG-ly.

I never use my camera’s built-in flash. About three years ago my husband very generously gave me a Speedlite for my birthday, which was a huge improvement. But, I still hated the harsh shadows often produced. So right away I started looking for ways to get the benefits of using flash while at the same time, softening the effect. I can’t remember how it was that I stumbled upon the Gary Fong Lightsphere, but it made a huge difference for me.

The only problem was, the thing was bulky, a little hard to get on and off quickly, and its rigid form took up too much space in my camera bag.

Then I discovered the Lightsphere Collapsible. It folds down into a nice, flat shape and doesn’t demand too much of my gear bag. It’s a lot easier to take on and off, and it produces such a wonderful light that is not too harsh and produces wonderful color, something that my energy-saving, but ugly-as-sin light fixtures can no longer do. Want proof?

Photo of orange yarn taken without flash

Photo of orange yarn taken without flash

The above photo was taken in my dining room, which is fairly brightly lit with a nice, off-white ceiling. The colors in this image are soft, but a little muddy, and kind of all run together. Not bad, and certainly better than i would have gotten with plain flash. But then, look:

Photo of orange yarn taken with flash

Photo of orange yarn taken with flash

This photo was taken with the Collapsible Lightsphere in place. Yes I can see a slight shadow, but it’s not harsh at all. And best of all, guess what? The photo is showing you the actual colors of my yarn. Not too bad, eh? I think after all my years of using flash only begrudgingly, I am finally starting to make peace with it. I’ve even gone so far as to realize that natural light isn’t always best, and there are situations where having nice, soft light from the flash will really improve the photo.

I love it when my love for yarn and my love of photography converge. Look for lots more bright, happy project photos from me.

That’s my husband’s Jayne Hat in progress. It’ll be done in time for this spring’s round of nerd conventions.