Monday, July 6, 2009

When illegal is legal

It's the 4th of July and I have just have to say "wow, thanks!" everyone for buying fireworks. Normally I head off to a big fireworks show (love the glitz, even love the smell of the fuses) - but this time I decided to hang out in my own neighborhood. What a gift. I was treated to non-stop fireworks - like the old days in Newport where everyone was lighting up on every corner and the sounds of "pow" permeated the air. For so long I got used to living in a town where fireworks were illegal (even dorky sparklers) that I forgot what it was like to get one of those big boxes at the fireworks place (and a few top of the line goodies) - go home and rip into that package like it was Christmas. You never really knew what each thing did so you just lit it up and stood back. The extra bang here is that these are gooooood fireworks! Almost every one has artillery shells (I think in Newport we were excited to have bottle rockets) and all kinds of flashy stuff. Joy!

And clearly Lugh is my dog - he couldn't get enough of them - he'd hear the "whoosh" of the artillery shells and look up to see the explosion of light. Not super thrilled with piccolo pete's, but I don't blame him, they are annoying...

As for news on the garden - just ate my first zuccini's (the 3 plants I have are taking over and turning the veg garden into a jungle - huge square foot leaves with little ouchy prickly things) - and pulled up a few beets to roast. I planted the last of the seedlings - heirloom watermelons and cukes - and decided to go ahead and plant the pathetic brussel sprouts that I had. The sprouts I planted last year got to a whopping 1cm in size and were a bit bitter.

Overall, summer is turning out quite nice. Lots of charm with the lightening bugs out every night twinkling away. And I am slowly whittling away at projects. Will try to post garden shots...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Taking a time out

Well, clearly I need to learn how to take time outs more often.  When you stop and enjoy life these are the things you get to experience:
  • Just how enormous one (yes only one!) squash plant can get with a little sun and rain (err...I hope people like squash I'll have lots)
  • A good song on the radio with the windows down
  • The smell of lightening and the boom of thunder while you sit out on your porch with friends
  • The "after storm" reduction in air pressure - and the gentle breezes that follow
  • Bonzai planting of herbs (not planting a bonzai tree but randomly sowing seeds)
  • Sitting out under the full moon and howling with Lugh 
  • All my prairie flowers up, pointing at the sky, and ready to bloom
  • The big dragonfly that just buzzed by
  • The twinkle of lightening bugs as they play out in the garden - they make me smile

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Looking towards spring

The weather this past week has been in the balmy 40-50s...I almost feel like getting back into my flip flops!  I'm getting a sense that spring isn't too far away, yet realize that we're probably in for a few more snows.  Either way, I've started to poke around for some interesting new ideas for the vegetable garden.  I've decided to kill off more grass (yeah!) and double the size of my garden.  If I get very creative I might even kill off all the remaining grass (yeah! yeah!) and do some more native plantings.  I think I've been inspired by the grasses down at the State Park in Prophetstown.  They are all these shades of ambers, golds, and rusts and when the light hits them its like a sunset glistening off the ocean.  Lugh of course loves the park because he gets to go off leash and smell all different kinds of wild scat.  In fact, we just walked there the other day with our friend Nadia K who was visiting from U Georgia.  Nadia does wickedly cool things integrating engineering and art education all around the idea of complex systems.  

As a catch up from past weeks (ok, months)...I was in California with family and went to Cambria with Jackie and Mark.  It was my first mobile home trip - and I must admit I really enjoyed having a soft bed and warm covers, rather than a quirky sleeping bag and a hard floor to sleep on.  I also must admit I couldn't pass up the option of using the microwave to make popcorn (normally camping food consists of cheese and tomato sandwiches and tea).  In Cambria Jackie, Max, and I took off for a walk to town (we thought it would be a couple miles - and it turned out to be a 9 mile roundtrip), poked around in all the artists shops (I bought glass jellyfish that hang in my office), and meandered along the beach.  

This is a shot of the turkey vultures drying off their wings and warming up in the sun.  
This is a shot of Max (with Jackie in the background) climbing around some rocks on the shore.  I of course took the opportunity to add to the texture wall at home.  Ah, yes, another project...  
Later on that weekend we went to Hearst Castle.  The last time I was there I think I was 18 or something.  I enjoyed hearing all the stories - and getting a new sense of Hearst beyond the newspaper mogul.  One of the funnier stories was hearing how at the big mansion dinners he used paper napkins with ketchup and mustard as condiments.  Go figure.

We then went off to the beach for one last walk, and came across a rather large elephant seal asleep on the shore.  At first I thought it was a really big rock, but then it moved and we could see it's big funky face.  He (she?) seemed to wake up for a bit, look around, and go gently back to sleep.  

What a life - lounging about on the beach.  Of course, I say this as I see Lugh asleep on my couch (bad boy) - and he looks up at me with a "what?" look on his face.  I'd tell him to get off, but he looks so peaceful...and he puts up with me making him dress up for Halloween...I was trying for Clifford the big red dog but realized that would end up being a lot of red I stopped at fucshia and then added green spots to add some pizazz.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A good day!

Okay, this worked out to be a good week. So great that I had to stop and think "why". This is what I thought of
  • Lugh did really well in dog training! Of course, there was only one other dog there so he wasn't as completely distracted as normal. Normally, we spend the whole hour walking around in circles and trying to get him to actually notice me (much less do what I say). On those days, I could be wearing meat and peanut butter and he still wouldn't notice me in the room. But yesterday - he and Ellie spent the whole day sitting down, laying down, getting up, following, not picking up something that wasn't his, and coming when calling (even off leash!). Wow. And no "argh argh argh" foot biting (almost, but he snapped out of it as quickly as he started). The only down side was Lugh's extraordinary gastrointestinal prowess. Stinky butt.
  • My Design class was super fun (that sounds so Californian). Each student researched something that was personally interested and presented it to class. It was impressive the way everything fit together. For me, I got to dig into some things I missed about design and see it through new eyes. Because the students were in charge of class (and my other class was cancelled due to a conference), I actually got some extra sleep. Boy, that makes a difference.

  • Shawn has narrowed down his dissertation topic into something that really seems to speak to him - and is heading off to a conference that will help him work out the details of his proposal. So fun to see the excitement!

  • Shanna found a really cool way to take many many pages of results and put them into a short format for a journal article.

  • Tiago and I are moving on the XD study, and I did some deep synthesis based on Tiago's work that's making me see some strong progress.

  • Our research group got into a very cool discussion on "what is engineering" and played around in some really provocative places (big E, little e engineering) that really got me thinking. It was so much fun I rushed home to take Lugh for a long walk in Happy Hollow Park where we got to chase chipmunks and squirrels, play with dogs (even a dinky rat terrier puppy), and see the leaves turn. I'll have to take Mom here when she comes out next week :)

The big question - how to sustain the "happy".... Play play play play play