29 November 2008

thankful

I could write about the silly things that I am thankful for (yarn overs, autofocus, the smell of crayons, a house-trained dog), and I could write about the not-so-silly things I am thankful for (my home, good friends, a steady income, my wonderful family, a house-trained dog). And while I am thankful for these—and many, many other things, both tangible and not—the one thing that keeps coming back to my mind during this season of thanks has entirely to do with my wonderful husband, Eric. While I can’t say that I am thankful that he took that out-of-state job, I can say that I am thankful for our strong relationship. I am thankful that I know that I can trust him, while he’s far and away, to support me, to be faithful to me, and to call me every night to wish me sweet dreams. I am thankful for the years he and I have spent together, for the years that we will spend together, and that during this time apart, I am thankful that I am strong enough to feel secure without him. I am thankful that he has taken a job that, while away, is not dangerous. And since I don't worry about him in his new job, I am actually a little thankful that I will have a year alone, to get to know myself without him. But I'll be so much more thankful when he comes home.

(I’ll also be really thankful when the GRE is over with, around noontime, December 27th.)

22 November 2008

getting it overwith already

Yesterday, Eric packed a small truck of essentials, and early this morning, he started south, on his journey to San Diego and a new, promising job. He's excited about the job, and I've been very supportive (I think sometimes he wished I wouldn't be, so he could use me as a reason not to go). We'll see each other as often as we can, but for now, while tears are frequent, I am determined not to wallow around the house feeling sorry for myself.

Ergo, my to do list for today:

Farmer's market to get ingredients for thanksgiving dinner (potatoes, mostly)
haircut (I had an appointment yesterday, but completely spaced it)
IKEA & REI
plant crocus, snowdrop and narcissus bulbs
walk Finn (it's a lovely crisp autumn morning)
laundry and general house cleaning

=================================

Before he left (as in, at about 11pm last night), Eric finished our new bed....




The details: solid oak head and foot boards, and side rails. Queen size bed, pine slats. As yet unstained, but in the interest of using it (and getting it out of the garage), we assembled it last night and will stain it later.

15 November 2008

Indiana

No sooner had I come home from Las Vegas than did I repack my bag for a trip to Indiana. A colleague of mine, JP, and I were to meet at the Indianapolis airport before renting a car and driving to Spencer, where were to assist a third colleague with some project work. JP was to arrive before me at Indy airport, but her flight was delayed until after mine. No problem, I thought, I’ll just get comfy it in the terminal and read my book until she arrives. Then something funny happened: between the arrival of my flight and hers, the old Indianapolis International Airport terminal closed, and the new one opened. The captain said something about my flight being the last American Airlines flight to come into the old terminal, but I didn’t think much of it until I was walking down the concourse and saw the retail shops and kiosks packing up their wares, and when I stopped for a bite and a beer (what little there was to be had) at one of the restaurants, the waitress was stacking any tables and chairs not actively in use in the corner. Still trying to kill time, I was seemingly the only passenger still wandering around, and -- as he was packing up some oscillating fans -- an airline employee asked if I needed help, and told me that any flights arriving after 8pm would be going to the new terminal, and that the passengers would be shuttled over to the old terminal for pick-up, etc. Not sure where they’d be shuttled to, I wandered around a bit more and asked for details at an info station. The woman there curtly informed me that the old terminal was closing, as if that weren’t perfectly clear by now (I could just about hear them ripping up the carpet and tearing out the fixtures behind me as I left the concourse. Eerie, that.) It became clear though, that there was no shuttle, but rather that I would have to go collect JP at the new terminal. I rushed over to the car rental desk, checked out my Ford POS and got directions to the new terminal.

What a difference! The old terminal was all threadbare carpets and peeling wallpaper, where the new terminal was clean (even the parking garage sported no oil spots!), the ceilings were high, the accents were modern, and there were flocks of people in red fleece jackets ready to assist you at every turn. One news film crew, and a few banks of automated check-in monitors that hadn’t been installed yet. Brand. Spanking. New. I found JP and we headed out to Spencer.


=======================



The weather being less than cooperative, we did a little more office work than anticipated. Not that we weren’t prepared or willing to go out in the rain, mind you, but that project construction had ground to a halt due to the heavy rain. So we assisted with office work in Spencer. We ate five out of seven meals at Chambers Smorgasbord, a Spencer institution, where the lunch buffet consists of fried fry, with gravy and a side of fry, hold the nutritional value. Actually, skeptical as I was, it was pretty good. I had never heard of, let alone tried, a fried biscuit before, and it turns out, they are awesome. I also had some great meatloaf (fell under my “when in Rome” dietary theory), as well as some boiled bits that appeared to be vegetables.

We stayed at McCormick Creek State Park’s Canyon Inn, which we mostly just saw in the dark and the rain, but on Thursday we got to leave the office a little early before we headed out for dinner in Bloomington, so JP and I took a walk around the park while the weather was dry. Lovely hardwood forests—unusual to me, being a westerner—and some fantastic rock formations, some of which included fossils!





No idea what critters these may have been, but they sure were neat to look at!

I also saw a teeny tiny fuzzy caterpillar (about half an inch long)….



And this crazy day-glow orange spider! (about an inch long, legs inclusive)


(If anyone knows what these critters are called, I sure would love to know!)

JP headed back to the inn and I wandered around the creek a bit more, desiring some time to myself. I walked and climbed and thought about everything and nothing. I thought about how infrequently I am really alone, and how it’s good to spend some time alone in the natural environment. I intend to try to do that a little more—spend some time with trees and the ground and the water and the critters. Don’t worry Mom, I’ll be careful.

Come Friday morning, the weather was getting worse, so JP and I decided to curtail the sightseeing we’d planned on into western Indiana and across Illinois, and after a quick trip to the field, we hopped a plane and headed back to Seattle two days early. I had a great time, bonded with two incredible women, and saw a corner of the earth that I otherwise may never have seen. JP and I are already planning our return trip in the spring.








Las Vegas

I was in Las Vegas for a week-long visual resources management training course. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and I’m sure I’ll always remember that I was alone in a Las Vegas hotel room when Barack Obama was declared President Elect of the United States.

We spent a good deal of time in the field, working on real-world type exercises, including landscape descriptions, ratings and evaluations. The first trip was to Red Rock State Park, on the western outskirts of Las Vegas proper.



On the second day we went to a solar energy generating system to the southeast of Vegas. I love the juxtaposition of the mirror arrays and the mountains in this picture.



I had a great class, and I learned so much. I was reinvigorated about my studies in landscape architecture, and I finally pinned down a topic for my paper this quarter: third party claims in the case of negligence due to misrepresentation (tell me that doesn’t just knock your socks off).

Southern Utah: day 2

On the second day of our southern Utah trip, we did a little more of Zion (at times in a downpour), and by noon, we were on the road towards Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. We stopped to see the Great Arch and Checkerboard Mesa on the way out….





We got a little peak into Bryce Canyon (the red part in the middle), but we didn’t stop there (next time)….




And the red rock formations of Dixie State Forest struck me as nearly comical in their perfect “Disney-esque” color and size.




some other neat photos....








We must have just missed the gorgeous autumn color of this aspen forest!


We zipped through Capitol Reef National Park, with just enough daylight to snap some pictures of Chimney Rock, The Castle and to make the one-mile hike out to Hickman Bridge….







After that, the sun set and we headed back to Las Vegas.



more red rock at Capitol Reef

04 November 2008

Southern Utah: day 1

As Eric and I packed our bags for a quick weekend trip to Zion National Park, we realized that in over ten years, this was the first time we were going to go on a trip of significant distance (camping, or driving to the next county over doesn't count) during which we weren't going to be visiting anyone we knew once we got there. While we love visiting all of our friends and family, it was really special for just the two of us to just go somewhere new to both of us.

Why Zion? I am staying in Las Vegas for a week for some work-related training, and when I mentioned to a colleague several weeks ago that Las Vegas is not my sort of town, she pointed out that the red rock desert of southern Utah isn't far from Las Vegas. The last few times I've travelled to places where Eric hasn't been before, I became sad -- even frustrated -- that I wasn't able to share it with him. So I proposed that we go on a little weekend trip to Zion, together, before I settled in for a week in Las Vegas.

We left Friday morning, arrived in Vegas about midday, hopped in our rental car that we nicknamed Bellagio, for it's gold color, and headed directly out of town, towards Springdale, Utah. It was dark by the time we got to Springdale, so we couldn't see the view out of our window....



We used the park tram system to get around Springdale and the Park, and since we didn't have much of a plan, we took the tram all the way to the end of the canyon, and hiked into Zion Narrows, a deep slot canyon that doesn't require technical climbing or (very) specialized gear. Water walking shoes would have been nice, but not having those with us, we just sucked it up and waded in our hiking shoes, knowing that they'd dry out soon enough in the dry desert air. We walked perhaps a mile and a half in, then turned back in the interest of seeing more of the Park.






(look for the string of hikers in the water for a sense of scale)

Being off-season, the in-park cafe that advertised grab-and-go lunches was closed, so we ate lunch at the Zion Lodge restaurant -- in our wet shoes and all. Then we set off to hike Angels Landing (nice little video about it here). Now, Eric isn't the greatest fan of heights, so the fact that he made it to the top (it was his idea, by the way) without much hesitation was a feat unto itself.









gotta get to class.... more to come!