CoMo Family: Miniature World!

On Saturday, we happened upon Miniature World, created by Patti Doyle and set up for a very short time in the basement of the Stephens College Assembly Hall.  It is a perfect place to spend an hour with children, gazing into the miniature worlds of cavemen, knights, pilgrims, cowboys, miners, construction workers, farmers and more…and then traveling the world to see such sights as the pyramids, the Great Wall of China, the Rhine River and Stonehenge.

The Terracotta Army in China.

The scale varies: This free exhibit is more about fun than about accuracy.  One of the added bonuses is being able to take the roofs off several buildings to see what is going on inside.  The exhibit will be open for the last time this year on Wednesday, December 19th, from 1 to 5 PM.  Ms Doyle, a delightful and entertaining hostess, will be on hand to answer questions and explain her creations.


The circus!

There is a horse show going on in this building, complete with organ music.

Stephens College Assembly Hall (sometimes called the Dorsey Street Auditorium or gym) is on Dorsey Street, south of Broadway.  Walk down a short flight of steps in the center of the north side of the building and look for the Miniature World sign on the door.


Top Ten Ways to Make Friends in CoMO

I lived in my last town for nineteen years; I had a few friends. I’ve lived in Columbia for a year, and I now have more friends than I can count. It’s a bigger town by quite a bit, so the pool is much larger, but I also think that it’s easier to make friends in this town.  How to do it?  There are many ways, but here are my top ten:


What better way is there to meet people?  You find yourself working side-by-side with someone new, sometimes doing mindless tasks that allow you to share your entire life history.  Before you know it, they are buying you lunch and you are inviting them to your big anniversary party.  Happy ending!  As a hospice volunteer, I don’t actually make friends while volunteering, but there is hope for the rest of you.


or the yoga studio or the walking club or whatever.  Choose a physical activity where you aren’t panting too hard to talk.  By the end of my second water aerobics class, I had a job offer; by the end of my first real yoga class, I had a lunch invitation.


The car traffic on my street is seriously outnumbered by the foot, bicycle, stroller, paw, and wagon traffic.  It helps that I have an adorable dog who thinks that everyone he sees is his new best friend, but animals are not necessary.  I met Jen on the street one day when I was biking home and she was returning from the park with her children.  We chatted for an hour and now we go dancing together.


There are so many possibilities here:  How about that group that meets at the Heidelberg to work on their conversational French skills?  Or the many service clubs?  Or that crazy multisport club that I first encountered when dozens of them were dressed as smurfs?  Or even the raw foodists?  Check for informal clubs and groups or start your own!


or meditation or temple or synagogue or a pagan gathering or whatever!  The options in this town are vast.  Once you find a place that feels like home, you will know that you have at least one thing in common with everyone else there.  That’s a good place to start.


I hear that the workplace can be a good place to meet people.  I don’t have a job, but I do have some things that I do for free that can be considered work and that allow me to walk up to perfect strangers and start talking to them…like writing for the CoMo Collective.


Or just a way to interact with others while doing your hobby.  My hobby is biking, and I mostly do it by myself or with my husband.  We decided to join Off Track Events‘ group rides before we discovered the event mastermind living next door.  At our first event as Columbia residents we made friends and got numbers, even though we were both dressed in wedding dresses.  There are tons of events in Columbia all year long; anyone can find something that appeals.


I am currently taking a class at the Career Center that is chock-full of potential friends.  I happen to know that several of the people from the previous session formed their own little club when their class ended and became very good friends.  Other great options for classes in Columbia (aside from the university and colleges) are Inside Columbia’s Culinary Adventures, Columbia Art League, Access Arts, and the library.


Yep, stay home, but for this one to work you have to open the doors.  We moved into our new home in August; in September we invited all the neighbors over.  It was a bit of a whirlwind–meeting that many new people in the span of about three hours–but we quickly learned who was interested in meeting us (nine out of twenty-two families) and who we wanted to get to know better (to start with: everyone named Kate).

For our next neighborhood party, on St. Patrick’s Day, we invited those people and asked them to bring friends (and a dish to share).  The food was awesome (Grilled cheese with pickles!  Irish soda bread!  Beer cheese!), and there were eight new (to us) people walking around our house wearing nametags showing their temporary Irish names.  All you need for this one is something to drink, something to eat, and a semi-clean house.  What could be easier?


Sometimes friendship opportunities arise when least expected.  The Columbia Welcome lady?  She could be your awesome new friend.  The lady massaging the kinks out of your back?  Ditto.  The homeless guy on the corner?  It’s possible.  I’ve made friends in all of those cases, and it was just a matter of reaching out first.  You’ll never know if you don’t try.

December show at PS Gallery

I attended the opening reception of the latest show at the Perlow-Stevens Gallery with the intention of finding one exhibiting artist to highlight and interview. It immediately became obvious that I would not be able to choose just one. The current show is so varied–so abundant–that I have to share it all.*

I became intrigued with Ginny Herzog‘s architectural paintings months ago when I discovered two small pieces at the gallery.  Her work is unusual: She uses oil and  cold wax (a very interesting process that is new to me), piecing together diverse architectural elements into a new form.  One of the unique aspects of her works is that they can be hung more than one way; there is no “right” perspective on most of them.

Kate Gray’s Bella Blue Unknown.

Kate Gray‘s watercolors show phenomenal talent.  Rays of light break through here…shadows fall across there.  These are gorgeous paintings, all inspired by a visit to Italy where the artist spent her days reconnecting to beauty and life.  Each painting in this series (Bella Connections) is paired with a poem written by Gray.  The poems give the works an added depth, allowing the viewer to dive deeper into the artist’s experience of rediscovering beauty (bella).  Many will walk away inspired to do the same.

I usually find myself walking by ceramics after a quick look, but Dawson Morgan‘s pieces made me pause.  It wasn’t color that stopped me; it was shape.  The wispy edges, the folds, the curves, the draping…it feels organic and sensual at the same time.  I was transported to other places while gazing at her work: an autumnal forest with dry and crispy leaves, a dress maker’s studio with yards of silk piled all over, a shallow stream with water gently moving around stones.

Joel Sager’s Rural Structure VI

Joel Sager is a prolific local artist, so chances are pretty good that you’ve already seen some of his work.  I find it fascinating that he uses roofing tar in his paintings; there can’t be many artists out there doing that.  His series of barn paintings elicits adjectives that aren’t usually used for depictions of the American countryside: deep, gloomy, hopeful, dreamy, intense.  I feel like he’s showing me a world that isn’t our own, and I am eager to jump in and explore.

The exhibit (which runs through December) also includes work that isn’t covered here, including a thought-provoking series on books in art (art in books…art as books…book art…), with intallation pieces and items to handle and even take home.  Ask the staff to explain these works; I got so much more out of it after I took a few minutes to ask questions.

*Note: I am not a photographer.  Everything looks much better in person; you’ll have to see it for yourself.


Get your ugly sweater here!

It’s that time of year: the time for ugly sweater parties, ugly sweater dances, and even ugly sweater hikes. I’m all set with my new BowWowBeauty, modeled by Kate C. below. What’s on the back of my doggie sweater? The dogs’ rear ends poking out of little dog houses.

Locally, you can find a sweater at any of the thrift stores. Mine came from Leo’s Old Clothes, where I rooted through an awesome collection until I found the clear winner. Maude’s Vintage currently has a collection of dozens.  The local options are far superior to the online options that I have viewed, so try the local stores first.

Kate D. modeling the MittenPocketStunner from the Walnut Street Salvation Army shop.

Bottom photo courtesy of Jonathan Asher Photography.

The Ruins of Us, Christmas Shopping and Columbia Independent School

by Keija ParssinenYou might wonder how the The Ruins of Us by local author Keija Parssinen, Christmas shopping and Columbia Independent School connect?  The answer is brilliant and simple!  Barnes and Nobles has provided readers in Columbia with a chance to meet Keija Parssinen while attending a reading of her novel, The Ruins of Us. In addition to this fabulous opportunity, Barnes and Nobles is donating a portion of the proceeds from sales made during the event to the school of Keija’s choice, Columbia Independent School.  To help support the school, stop by the table to meet Keija and receive a voucher that tells the cashier to donate a portion of your purchase to the school.

This event is a wonderful opportunity to meet a local author, published by HarperCollins and shop for those avid or budding readers on your list.  The perk? Your purchases help support an institution on our community.  What could be better than meeting a talented, best-selling author and enjoying a reading from The Ruins of Us, all while supporting an educational institution while Christmas shopping?

Join us on Sunday, December 9, 2012 from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. at Barnes and Nobles in the Columbia Mall. The reading will take place at 5 p.m. We hope to see you there.

Don’t Miss: CD Release Party

Friday, November 2nd. Decadent Nation and Ghost in the Machine are both performing at the Blue Note to launch their new CDs.

I got hooked on Decadent Nation after viewing the new video for Dan Boone Stomp, which showcases some of my favorite hang-out spots in Mid-MO:

The Many Colored Death (Columbia) and Inimical Drive (St Louis) are also playing, although the performance order is still a mystery.  Best to arrive early and stay late.  It’s only $5; you’ll easily get your money’s worth.

CoMo Event: Psychic Fair

Good Nature is holding its first annual Full Moon Psychic Fair tomorrow, September 29th, from 11 AM to 6 PM. Columbia has plenty of great events and activities going on all year round, but this is something out of the ordinary.

Services available at the fair include palmistry, tarot card reading, rune casting, astrology charting, reiki healing, chair massage, and aura photography.

I plan to be first in line to have a photograph taken of my aura.  The aura is the electromagnetic field around the human body.  Nicola Tesla is reported to have made the first aura photograph long, long ago.  I’ve had plenty of people tell me what my aura looks like; now it’s time to find out if a camera sees it the same way.

There will be live music by Romani Blue, along with belly dancers and a drum circle at 4 PM.  Folks are encouraged to bring their instruments.  Books, tarot cards, runes, pendulums, and drums will all be discounted 15% during the fair.  The pendulums are great fun to play with, and anyone can make beautiful sounds with Good Nature drums…even me.

Good Nature is hidden away in Alley A between 9th and 10th streets, just south of Broadway.  It’s a perfect perfect place to hold a fair.  It’s also the perfect place to buy an alcoholic beverage called Viking Blod.  I have no idea if it is palatable.  I don’t drink, so someone else is going to have to look into that.

***Awesome and inexpensive photography by Jon Asher.


Today in CoMo : Startup Weekend Party at Bleu

Columbia Startup Weekend, September 28th-30th at Museao, is a 54-hour event that brings entrepreneurs, developers, designers, etc. together to build business ideas over the span of a weekend. Teams are surrounded with expert mentors and the resources they need to focus on building their business.

Everyone is welcome to the Startup Weekend Opening Ceremony party tonight 9/27 at Bleu Restaurant (811 East Walnut Street) from 7-9pm. Tickets are $10 at the door. This cover gets you two free beverages as well as appetizers. All Startup Weekend participants, sponsors, mentors and judges are invited to attend FREE of charge! So why not signup? Tickets are being nabbed quickly. To sign up/for more info go to

As a bonus, SmartRide will be offering their services for FREE to attendees. You focus on having fun. SmartRide will ensure you have safe transportation home. SmartRide is a new company in town that provides safe professional drivers to get you and your car home. Schedule ahead or rent a driver for the night out, SmartRide offers services for members and non-members.

For the Startup Weekend Party, reserve now through or call 573-303-5950. *Make sure to mention the code STARTUP* Then dispatch will know that your ride is free Thursday evening. Don’t forget to leave a tip for the driver.

*Promo Code: STARTUP*

CoMo Events : O’Fallon Beer Dinner

Eat, drink and be merry in the Culinary Adventure Center.

Savor rustic, hearty flavors perfectly paired with O’Fallon Beers. Enjoy a colorful and culinary evening, complete with a five-course meal expertly prepared by Culinary Adventures’ Executive Chef Dennis Clay. The evening’s featured beers will be a Smoked Porter, 5 Day IPA, Pumpkin, Hemp Hop Rye and a Belgian Dark Stout. The dinner begins at 6 p.m., Oct. 10 at 47 E. Broadway.

Tickets are $50 and available for purchase here.

STL Event : Disney on Ice

If you’re not a blues fan, or your kids are Disney fans, you will want to enter this giveaway. Up for grabs? Four tickets to Disney on Ice : Treasure Trove on September 22 in St. Louis at 3pm. Click through to enter!

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