Tromp Queen: The Evangelist

Calvin Smith preach
“Preach” image by Calvin Smith via Flickr CC generic license. Speaker’s Corner, London 2007

Sometimes I feel like an evangelist. I feel excited about something I’ve discovered or I have some knowledge that seems relevant to share. Whatever the reason, I find myself telling people about things they might be interested in or that might be of help to them.

Here is my current list of “really great things”:

  1.  Hamilton. The Musical.Months ago, my daughter suggested I should listen to the soundtrack.
    “I think you’d really like it, Mom.”
    Yeah, hmmm. I wasn’t sure.
    I knew it was a hot ticket on Broadway in NYC but I also knew it had a hip-hop and/or rap vibe.
    Not really my wheel-house.But earlier this week I finally asked her to put it on a memory stick for me so I could put it on my iPod.

    Yes, I’m a musician, professional pianist and music teacher — but I mostly listen to music in the car not at home.
    I tend to get too caught up in listening that I end up getting nothing done.
    Unless it is a special genre of what I call “house cleaning music” but that fills a special purpose.
    I digress.


    Hamilton.  The Musical.
    Anyway, It took me a few trips around town to listen to the whole soundtrack, but even before I finished the whole thing I was already telling pretty much every I met that I LOVED it and that they should listen to it, too. Right away! I have listened to it numerous times now and I am still hearing new things in it.

    I’m so excited about it that I’m going to organize a group to go see the show when it comes to Chicago this fall. I can’t wait!

  2. Zenni Optical. Yes, you can order excellent quality inexpensive eyeglasses online. I got three pairs for about $30 including shipping. THREE pairs. I recently bought a pair of glasses at a local eyeglass store that cost nearly $400! I honestly can’t tell the difference between the expensive pairs and the very inexpensive pairs.
    This pair is on my wish list. Zenni Optical.

    Zenni has a very good website. You need your prescription from your eye doctor (with the pupillary distance if possible, but that is not essential since the website tells you how to measure it yourself). You can upload a photo of your face so that you can try the frames on YOUR photo. I found that it takes about an hour to get the photo and prescription enetered, choose your glasses and fill out the order form.

    I’m kind of embarrassed to say that I’ve ordered SEVEN pairs of glasses from Zenni (so far.) I stepped on one pair and one pair is AWOL, but they cost about as much as two grande mochas so I don’t feel horrible about it.

    I LOVE the cool frames. I have a pair that green multicolor, bright blue plastic, a purple polka-dotted pair, blue wire half-rims, and a pair that look Mondrian-ish. The pair that looks like wood is the AWOL pair, but I have hope they will turn up.

    Seriously. Wouldn’t a nice pair of trendy, colorful, hip eyeglasses perk up your day?

  3. Penzeys Spices. I’ve used these spices for probably two decades or more. There IS a difference in quality over the grocery store brands. These are some of my essentials: Cinnamon (I have three different kinds), Chili Powder (two kinds), Peppercorns (Special India Extra Bold), Rogan Josh (curry blend), Sweet Curry, Northwest Seasoning, Double Strength Pure Vanilla Extract, Italian Seasoning, Cocoa (two kinds), nutmeg, Chicago Steak Seasoning.



  4. Take Vitamin D. Most people don’t get enough of this vitamin, especially in the winter months and especially up North. I take 1000 IU a day. The RDA is lower than that, but the research I’ve read seems to suggest a higher amount than the RDA. Some recommend up to 2000 IU a day.  The studies that most convinced me to take the extra Vitamin D were those identifying lower cancer risk and lower incidence of colds/flu with higher levels of Vitamin D. Check some Vitamin D facts here.
  5. Thrift Books. I have to thank my niece and my sister for this tip. If you don’t want to pay full retail, you still enjoy reading “real” books, and you don’t mind if your books are “pre-owned” — this is the site for you! You can find all sorts of books and most are $3 or less. You can get free shipping with orders over $10. They have saved over 200 million of books from going into landfills! Good stuff.
    thrift books
  6. Goodwill. Favorite things to find: jewelry (gemstones and glass beaded necklaces and earrings either to wear or tear apart to make new creations), cashmere sweaters, silk scarves, original art and photography, books (cookbooks, too), CDs, leather purses, picture frames and so many useful, beautiful items over the years.

    find a grave

  7. Find A Grave and My two (FREE) “go to” sites for family history research. I already wrote a blog post about this whole topic, so you can read more about this there.


    There are many more but I won’t continue to go into so much detail. I’ll leave you with brief list of past evangelistic crusades I’ve been on:
    A&E Pride and Prejudice (Yes, all five hours of it).
    Humans of New York (Facebook page)
    Terry Pratchett (author, Discworld series)
    Shutterfly (make your own books)
    Colossal:  website devoted to photography, design, animation, painting, installation art, architecture, drawing, and street art

I’m sure I’ll think of other items to add to this list as soon as I post it.


As I am winding up this blog post, I realized suddenly that I read an article recently about having  a friend who was always making connections between people and always had a recommendation to give about almost everything.  I can’t find the article and I can’t remember the term for the person who doled out the advice and links. (If anyone happens to have read it or finds something similar, please let me know!) There wasn’t a negative connotation; the point was that this person was a good type of friend to have.  They know a lot of people, and they have a lot of knowledge about a wide range of topics/places/people/things/ideas/etc which they share freely and without any ulterior motive or need for approval/praise. I wonder if I’m this type of friend.  I hope I’m not annoying!  I do tend to share things I’m excited about, though —

What are some things, recommendations, or topics you tend to get evangelistic about?




Top Ten: Interesting and Inspiring Finds

I want to share some of my
very favorite websites and pages with you!

1.  That Tree: This project started in the area of my old hometown! Mark Hirsch took a photograph of an old oak tree every day for a year and posted the photos on his Facebook page.  The beauty and artistry (and his perseverance) attracted a wider and wider audience as the year progressed.  The project is now internationally famous.  He has published a beautiful book and has done many national interviews.  He continues to post photos of That Tree frequently, but not every day now.

People gather for the group pic.  photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill
People gather for the group pic. photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill

(Note:  I am actually IN the book!  I was one of the people who gathered in the field on that cold, snowy day last March to celebrate the final day of the year of photographs.  We are all in the book with That Tree.)

2.  Historical Pics:  This site has off-beat photographs of historic events, people, and random things galore.  For instance:

Louis Armstrong plays for his wife in Giza, 1961.

3.  Holstee: “Holstee exists to encourage mindful living. We hope to change the way people look at life by designing unique products and sharing meaningful experiences.”  This is the blurb from their website.  The company is cooler than this blurb sounds.  They have some great free inspirational downloads.

This is your LIFE. Holstee Manisfesto. A longer version of this is printed as a poster and notecards.

4.  Brain Pickings:  This site has a continual stream of quirky, artistic, off-the-beaten-path, intelligent, and inspiring articles and illustrations.  One of my recent favorites is a list of New Year’s resolutions from people like Woody Guthrie and Marilyn Monroe! Read it here.  Take some time to browse their archives, though, if you can.  Enjoy!

5.  Do you know about Humans of New York?  This link takes you to the Facebook page, where a photo is posted every day with a short quote or conversation.  I find it incredibly moving.  I got the book as a Christmas gift and just love it!

6.  Colossal: The tag line says “art and visual culture.”  Their blurb says this:  Each week you’ll find 15-25 posts on photography, design, animation, painting, installation art, architecture, drawing, and street art. Colossal is also a great place to learn about the intersection of art and science as well as the beauty of the natural world. There are frequently posts about things far out in left field, but generally Colossal is a reminder that in this digital age there are still countless people making incredible work with their bare hands.

You’ll see things like this:

Pierre Javelle and Akiko Ida: Minimiam, via Colossal

and this:

Martin Hill and Philippa Jones: via Colossal

GORGEOUS and so beautiful!

7.  Another site I can spend quite a while browsing in is:
Laughing Squid. Their website “about” blurb:  Based in New York City, Laughing Squid is a blog featuring compelling art, culture & technology as well as a cloud-based web hosting company with a focus on WordPress hosting. For more info see our FAQ and Wikipedia.

Here are a few very memorable examples of the odd-ball kind of things you’ll find at Laughing Squid.

8. Letters of Note:  This site publishes letters written by various famous and not-so-famous people.  It is intriguing, amazing, engaging, humorous, and full of information.

“In our age of email and texts, letter-writing seems set for extinction. But millions have been flocking to a website to pore over the correspondence collected by blogger Sean Usher.”

Click here for a wonderful example of historic correspondence Letters of Note highlights. (This links to a series of letters between Ford Motor Company and poet Marianne Moore as they discuss various car names).  Here is a link to the Letters of Note “best of 2013” list.  This one is from a Dallas hospital administrator in 1963.  Letters of Note recently published a book as well.

9.  Noisetrade: This site has gobs of free music.  Tag line:  Free music from thousands of artists who would like to meet you. You can sample, listen online and request a download code.  If you like what you hear, you have several opportunities to leave tips for the artists. I have found this a great avenue for discovering new music to get me out of my listening ruts. There is a limit to the number of downloads per day (something like 8 or 10? not very limiting really).

You can get this album free (and choose from thousands more!) at

10.  Word Porn:  I love obscure and interesting words.  This site has many that I never heard of or even imagined existed!

I’d love to hear about some of YOUR favorite places to browse around on the web.  Please share!

Amazing Views of Earth from Space

Awe inspiring earthly beauty brought to you via Moss and Fog via European Space Agency’s satellites via Colossal.

Moss and Fog

It’s hard to comprehend the beauty of some of these satellite images taken by the European Space Agency. Via Colossal:
Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency space Earth
Namib Desert / October 5, 2013

Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency space Earth
Peruvian landscape / July 4, 2013

Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency space Earth
Scandinavian snows / February 1, 2013

Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency space Earth
Mississippi River Delta / May 25, 2012

Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency space Earth
Ganges’ dazzling delta / July 31, 2009

Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency space Earth
Clearwater Lakes, Canada / May 17, 2013

Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency space Earth

Plentiful plankton / September 14, 2009

Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency space Earth
Swirling cloud art in the Atlantic Ocean / June 11, 2010

Observing the Earth: Incredible Satellite Photos of Earth from the European Space Agency space Earth
Agricultural crops in Aragon and Catalonia / November 26, 2010

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