(picture by Kim Shahi)
Sometime in the last two weeks, the white door on the right was installed on the third floor of our building and has caused a little stir for those who have noticed it. First of all, all of the other doors in this 14-floor research building are some version of the door on the left. Some have the rectangular window you see above, some have the half-door square window and some have no window at all. But none of them have the look of a domestic door. The University is quite strict (usually) about what can and cannot be done from a design standpoint in this building, so to see something so far out of the norm is slightly disturbing on several levels. That this door has the panels isn't what bothers most of the people who notice it (remember - they are science geeks - some are the absolute definitions of O-C and retentive). It's that the doors aren't even (top or bottom) that bothers them. I know it bothers me. Some of the students in my lab have said they were tempted to put a welcome mat and a potted plant beside the white door (never mind that it might obstruct traffic through the brown door). I said I wanted to give it a front porch since it was raised so high. I think it's a Wonderland door - who knows where it might lead. I can just see opening the door and it's a lab where Picasso-like beings are looking through microscopes, investigators are writing grants with magic giant pens and rabbits dance with elephants…
Should we knock?
If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door. Milton Berle (1908 - 2002)


Honorable Mention

Earth Spirit One won Honorable Mention in her category in the University's art show! Whoo-hooo!! I'm very pleased. The piece winning that category (a glass plate) was very well done and it's something I wouldn't mind owning, so I don't feel bad. Actually, I never feel bad regardless of the outcome of these events: 1) you can never second-guess what judges will like, and 2) I was making the piece anyway and this is another place to show other people what I do. Besides - I now have another ribbon to go on the trophy wall and a possible new member for the fiber arts group (the artist that won is a paper-enthusiast). Score. Last night was the art show reception. Some artists (one in particular who gets looked over every year but who does what I think of as outstanding work) were grumbling because of the way the show was run: the registration announcements were late so it made for short deadlines; there should be a catalog; the cards on some of the entries were incorrect; ribbons shouldn't be displayed before the awards reception; blah blah. I don't think it was sour grapes, becaue some of this Grumpy Group were ribbon winners. They seemed to have misuinderstood the rationale for this particular show - it's a forum for employees to show that they are more than their jobs. The person "running" it had never done it before so there were inherent glitches in that. And this show is THE SAME TIME EVERY YEAR. I just wanted to stand on a chair and shout, "If you know it's going to happen in July every year, then just give yourself a deadline of July 1 and then your piece will be ready to go the minute the deadline is announced." Sheesh (as Dave would say). But I didn't. And I also didn't point out that they could certainly volunteer to help organize it for next year…
The trick is in what one emphasizes.
We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy.
The amount of work is the same.
Carlos Castaneda


Lessons Reconfirmed

During this last trip, I reconfirmed several things I already know: I don't like being away from home for more than 3 days. I think it's genetic, so I will blame my father's side of the family for this. My Uncle Gene once left the farm to go to a family reunion six hours away, but half-way there (much to his wife's consternation) he turned around and went back: because he didn't want to be there all week, he decided it would be a waste to go at all...Don't get me wrong - I have a great time while I am someplace else. But - the older I get, the less I like leaving home - of course, Dave and I both love our house and wish we didn't have to leave it each day - but that's also because we have so much of our own work we'd like to do instead! Anywhere East of Texas (and a few places West) feels claustrophobic…every time I drive back over the Texas state line or land at DFW, I feel this huge sigh of relief come over me and immensely enjoy the 180-degrees of sky over my head. It partially explains why I've stayed here these 32+ years and I can completely understand those 'Westward-Ho' pioneers - there is just more air here to breathe - although with pollution alerts at Status Red these days, one doesn't want to breathe too deeply… My wardrobe now runs to the "Scrubs" look - everything in my closet is pants and boxytop - I'm not sure that's because of what's available in my size in the stores or, if left to my own choice, I would choose jeans and t-shirts. It's not exactly a flattering look at my age and size, but it is comfortable. A friend of mine has declared she has now switched to the "Housedress" Look because it's comfortable and she can make them for herself (my Mom used to call it a mumu style). Again, not leading fashion, but comfortable (although hers are cute as they are made from her quilting scraps). Is it because we are old now and just seeking comfort? Or, in my case, am I just always going to be a child of the 60s? Part of it is what's available in the stores…Project Runway certainly isn't good at coming up with looks for the older woman - I wonder if we can talk Christian into a Fierce Old Woman line? I have a passion for historical event markers - 'hysterical markers' - because in some state of hysteria, a committee or council decided to commemorate a historical factoid with a permanent plaque - I have been known to drive out of my way just to find one and read it - some of my favorites were found from highways signs that say "Historical marker 1 mile" with an arrow pointing away from my current road… and when found, it basically says that 100 yards from [there], nothing of real value happened or someone no one has ever heard of used to live in a house that isn't there any more. Since I usually have my camera with me, I take a picture of the marker and then look up more information about the factoid when I go through my pictures. While I enjoy the markers, I have limited tolerance for historical items/places themselves. After the 3rd cathedral, or 4th battlefield, or two decks of warship, I'm through. I don't want to know any more information, I don't want to see something that looks extremely like the last one I saw. Someone somewhere has written this information down. I have the same questions I had in school…yeah, yeah, how is this relevant to my life, my art, this day? Only when I can connect to something relevant (to my art, usually), do I not notice the minutes of my life ticking away. I can spend hours on end working in my studio and not even remember to eat, but 15 minutes at a historical site and I'm looking for some way to stay awake. Fortunately, I'm happy to take pictures of anything - but just STOP telling me that pile of information after "Pasteur lived here" or "Washington listened to a sermon here" or "Emerson wrote here". Don't care. No excitement. I know there's not a test at the end of the tour.
I am no longer physically capable… - I was going to expand this sentence but then realized it kind of stands alone - I can no longer walk 10 kilometers without dire consequences; there is no staying up until the wee hours of the morning; I can't sit in a plane for more than 1.5 hours without my arms and legs swelling to alarming proportions; I can't eat large spicy meals or large meals, period - etc. etc. etc. I'm not dwelling on the negative here - I'm recognizing my limitations. Something we fail to even think we have when we are younger and is really quite disquieting when we run into them here in later life. I used to run two miles a day, now I can't even walk two miles without penalty. And you don't want to whine about it or spoil anyone else's fun…but if you don't get to sit soon-or find a bathroom now-or take a nap-or or or…. And the last lesson, but not the least, is that I love spending time with Dave - we get along, have the same general interests, and can spend 24/7 together. Not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all.


Turn-Around Wednesday

Didn't matter where we went today- we always ended up turning around to get to where we wanted to go - but we managed to find more dead relatives (Dave's side) and see some cool countryside to boot. Here's shots of Dave with Elisha Warren's first wife & son, then Dave with Elisha and his second family and, finally, with Great-Grandfather Herbert (Elisha's son) and Grandmother Mildred...

and here are my favorite shots of the day - a pond near one of the burying gounds, General Draper's horse, and local fungi.
Tomorrow it's back to Boston!
Hugs - Jo


Museum Tuesday

Today we went to the Natural History Museum, the Peabody, and the Sackler (which also had some of the Fogg collection since the Fogg museum is being renovated). Here's some of what we saw...
these flowers are glass..awesome...
as are these creatures:
the minerals collections, dinosaurs and all the rest was pretty cool, too!
Tomorrow we visit outlying villages to find more dead ancestors... Hugs - Jo


Visits with the Dead

So today we hit Boston's famous Freedom Trail - and I know the guidebooks say that sucker is only 2 miles from the Commons to Copp's Hill, but it honestly feels like it was the 26 they run for the marathon. OMG we hurt all over...and I now have hundreds of pictures just from today! We were mostly interested in the burying grounds - some of the people on the Gore roll are buried here in Boston and a few of Dave's ancestors as well - here he poses for a family shot with Mary Chilton. Everyone we've met has really been nice (Heaven knows the place is crawling with tourists) and these guys from the streets department were kind enough to pose for a picture I could send to Margaret for her Men-at-Work collection (how 'bout that, Margaret? I got men to kneel in the street just by asking!). One of my favorite shots is part of Brewer's Fountain in Boston Commons - I'd swear the guy was asking "Hmmmm...Do you know where my keys might be?" and she's saying "Did you look in your pocket?" Of course, by the end of the day we were beat...that last cemetery almost did me in - Dave captioned this shot as The Dead and the Near-Dead (that's a Mr. Folsom to my right...it was very pleasant there in the shade with him!).
And the headstones were really cool - I loved this one with the depiction of Dancing with Death... We're falling into bed now so we can get up early and shuffle around Cambridge tomorrow (Harvard, museum with glass flowers, museum with Islamic and Indian art, the Peabody...etc.). So - here it is...the picture of the day. We feel like the poor hydrant just expired while walking up the hill...he just couldn't make it any further! Hugs - Jo


Additions to a List

Anyone who knows me knows that I am an inveterate list-maker (almost OCD...) - starting very young, I used to have lists of all the books I ever read...I got over that sometime in my late 20s as computers were still the size of buildings and I had a huge notebook full of this list and no way to decently organize it short of a card catalog which, by that time, would have been the same size as the local library's...but I still have lists that I compile, among them: -> phrases in movie synopses that will prevent me from watching the movie (e.g. starring [any] Busey, maniacal killers rampage, and my favorite one-word stopper, vampire...) -> good titles for quilts -> good first lines for poems and -> good first lines for novels The last list is what spurred this blog today - in our compulsive way of back-up when we leave for a trip, Dave and I confirm with each other things that had to be done that were done (trash is in garage, dirty dishes are in dishwasher, coffeepot is off, garage door went all the way down, and yes the back door is locked). "Yes the back door is locked" is what prompted me to come up with the new "first line": I knew something was wrong when I opened the door and saw the raccoon. Actually, I'm not sure that we have raccoons in the area - I know Grumpy the Possum lives nearby but from his general demeanor, I'm pretty sure he would be pretty pissed off if he had to go searching in the house for something useful and then was interrupted by the police because the alarm went off. I also collect overheard sentences - yesterday we passed two tweens coming out of Wal-Mart and what we heard was "And so I like go to the mall to like get some ice cream, ya know?" - while in Utah, all I caught of a conversation between Alton and Dave was "juggling on a unicycle while wearing a speedo" (part of a joke...but, still...causes you to think, doesn't it?)...
So - we're in Cambridge (Massachusetts) - staying in a really nice B&B just a few blocks from Harvard Square (see picture to the left). We had a really nice dinner at Dolphin Seafood and are just about to watch Chris Noth's final L&W CI episode - tomorrow we hit the Freedom Trail... what a great way to start a vacation! Here's the picture of the day - Hugs - Jo
p.s. the scenic version of the Utah trip has been added to the pdf list (one of my favorite lists, by the way...)


Utah pictures

While I was finishing up the family pictures from our trip to Utah, I came across this shot taken by Shera on my camera - Tiersa and Kyla - how cute are they?? - so the pdf of the Utah trip (the family shots) is on the pdf list - enjoy.
We had an active week - the lab had goodbye bagels for the summer rotation students...
I said goodbye to my friend Cher, who is moving back to Indiana...
we had a fiber arts Board meeting (it was really more interesting than it looks...)...
Kevin had a potluck picnic for the entire lab at his house...
Val and I took a Praise Dancing class at the Lutheran Church - even Pastor Bill took a shot at it!
This morning Dave and I presented our work at the monthly meeting of the local chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma (teachers)...it was a blast - what a cool group of teachers...
and tomorrow we get on a plane and head for Boston...so stay tuned for more great pictures!
Hugs - Jo