Monday, December 22, 2008

packing label coffee table

During Christmas break 2 years ago, I visited a friend in Orlando. We had breakfast in downtown Oviedo, at a great greasy spoon diner (one of my joys in life). Right next to the diner was an antique store that was going out of business. Most of the stuff was bad, and not in a kitschy "this is so retro" kind of way. It was no wonder it was going out of business. But they did have a large box of produce packing labels that were 50% off. Labels are a great combination of agriculture and design. They were so clever with the names and designs of each company. So I bought several, mostly from the South, for several different types of produce. Later, I found a coffee table at a yard sale - the perfect way to display them. I covered them with Liquid Glass epoxy resin to keep them protected. Besides some bumpy edges, I really like my little table.

Ignore the messy state of my living room (although this is normally what it looks like...)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ruby's favorite things

I have been accused of having a spoiled puppy. Sure, she barks and I come running, but it's not like she gets doggie ice cream (only that once, when we went to the ice cream parlor... really. It had bacon bits.) She doesn't get cookies all the time, only when she goes into her crate (so at least 2 a day) and treats on special occasions. I could spoil her a lot worse, the way she begs for food. But she LOVES her toys. She is very good about keeping them intact and actually still has every single toy she's ever gotten. Maybe that's why it seems like she is spoiled.
This is Petunia the Manatee. I got the stuffed animal from Erin last Christmas, and Ruby decided she really liked it. I tried to keep her away from it, but I get more use of it this way.She really loves the squeaky ones. She will sit and squeak for hours. Especially while I'm on the phone. The yellow spiky ball is squeak-squeak and the pink octopus is Vernon.  She also has a turtle named Everett. 

I could be a lot worse. At least I don't have any clothes for her yet. Although she would look SO CUTE in an argyle vest...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Emily & Kaity

As I was cleaning up stuff the other day, I found a CD of pictures I had taken last October of my sister Emily and her daughter Kaity at Lake Alice. I had edited them last year, but those photos have gotten lost in the shuffle of moving desks and computers. I'm sure I have them somewhere and I know Emily does, but I went ahead and did some basic edits on the better ones.

Kaity has grown and changed so much since this time last year. And she looks so much like her Momma (it helps that Em dressed them alike!).

Monday, December 1, 2008

"The Back Yard"

When I was in 11th grade, I wrote this essay for Mrs. Gentry, my AP english teacher. The rest of my class did not appreciate how hard she pushed us, but I loved it. I found this essay as well as a few others while I was throwing stuff out for the move. I took some liberties with it, but the majority of it is true.

The back yard

“You can’t catch me!” I yelled at Erin as I streaked around a corner of the hallway. Her giggling came from close behind me and I could sense the vibrations of her steps through the wooden floor. Emily suddenly popped around a corner and I let out a screech.

 “go play in the yard,” my mother called from the kitchen in a restrained tone. So Emily who is four years ahead of me, Erin who is two years my senior and I marched onto the back porch in a grand parade. We stood there; swatting at flies and looking out over the acre of land that was our backyard, trying to decide what to do next.

Along the perimeter of the backyard sauntered a haphazard fence of hog wire, which enclosed our usual area of play. The real purpose of the fence was to keep was to keep enterprising dogs and wildlife out of our garden and chickens, but for me the fence stood as the boundary of civilization, the only separation between me and the wild animals that prowled and growled in the night. Inside the fence sprawled a barn, four trees, a swing, and a playhouse. Of course, to us those things were not just ordinary objects but mystical things.

The barn was a haunted and magical structure wallpapered in spider webs. Inside were the biting but somehow sweet odors of mechanical grease, dry hay, and horse feed. The barn was a graveyard for tools frozen by rust, artifacts of bygone eras. I would never ventured in it too far; for fear that scratchy hay on the back of my legs was really an imagined ghoul. My sisters, of course, never discouraged these fears and often fed them with stories.

The four trees that were scattered around our house not only provided tranquil and relaxing shade on a scorching day, but also a wonderful natural playground. The rough bark of the live oak provided traction for climbing. In the winter, the orange tree gave us succulent, tangy fruit that made our chins and fingers sticky. The avocado tree was mammoth and acted like the bank when the backyard was an imagined town. We never ventured near the key lime tree, which was the wicked witch’s tower to us, with all of its thorns.

The rubber swing hung prominently between the oak tree and the orange tree in the dead center of the back yard kingdom. We used it as a vine when we played Tarzan, a rollercoaster in our theme park, and under unusual circumstances, as a swing. I could sit under the trees as cool as lemonade, listening to the twitter of birds above me and the hum of the dragonflies. A few feet away, I could smell the baking grass and practically see the heat rising from the ground. And yet, I could sail through the thick air like Peter Pan on the swing, the wind on my face.

The last main object in our yard was of great importance to the imaginative careers of our minds. The playhouse was a very sturdy little hut built to the size restrictions of small children. It was the last remaining link to my grandfather, who built it for my second Christmas and passed away not a year later from leukemia. He fashioned the outside of rough boards painted muddy brown and smoky gray shingles. Inside the rough little divided door there was a brightly colored plastic Fisherprice kitchen set that I received for my fifth Christmas, and a tiny table and shelf for things deemed precious by children. On either side of the house, a window was cut into the wall complete with shutters. Outside was a red brick stoop my father laid out with flowering marigolds along the sides. The playhouse was the center of my creative universe. Here I played house through rain or shine and the food I cooked was almost real enough to taste. I could be Snow White living in her cottage or a rancher out on the range. Often I was a pirate and the house my ship. My imagined world was so real I could take days to play out a character. And this sprouted from a single tiny brown building.

When I moved away from those wide-open spaces eight years ago, my heart was shattered. The new backyard did not hold nearly the allure of the old. It seemed barren with no trees or playhouses. But as people do, I accepted the change, and in doing so changed myself.

When I visited my old house recently, I noticed my old backyard had fallen into decay since I last ran in it. The trees are diseased and dying. The little playhouse where I preformed my dreams had all but rotted away to a pile of trash. I mourned the passing of my young childhood spot until I realized that the summer days I had experienced there were not over. My old physical back yard is now just a place for discarded dreams, but my real backyard, the one I played in and dreamed in will always live on in vibrant color in my memories.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gainesville Bucket List

Now that I am officially leaving Gainesville, I have to say a proper goodbye to the town I've come to love. So I created a "bucket list" of things i have to do before I leave town (or maybe to do when I visit) and I'm posting it here, per Jodi's suggestion:
Restaurants to eat at/Bars to patronize:
The Top
Jeff’s Deli
Tim & Terry’s
Market Street
Trombone charlie’s
Café gardens

Before I leave I have to have dinner with:

Aubrey & Charlie

Hannah, Will & Joey

The Eubanks (Both sets)

The AEC gang

Jodi and the girls

Places to see / things to do:

Millhopper State park

Payne’s Prairie

Melrose (yay Thanksgiving!)

Fishing (hopefully Thanksgiving)


Canoeing/Kayaking on Springs/River/Gulf something water related

bats (the campus bat house) 


Ward's Grocery

Farmer's market

Urban Thread (Ok, so this is shopping... a little different)

Hopefully I will get to everything on my list. I have a lot of stuff to do and not a whole lot of time. If you think of anything else to add or would like to help me accomplish anything on the list, let me know! I will try to put up pictures as I go along. 

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ruby Tuesday 11-18

Don't question why she needs to be so free
She'll tell you it's the only way to be
She just can't be chained 
To a life where nothing's gained
And nothing's lost
At such a cost...
Time for a Ruby Update.

Ruby had her first kennel experience, first (and hopefully last) surgery, and first real encounter with wildlife in the last few weeks. 
She got to go to the Micanopy Animal Hospital when I went to Indiana on a work trip. She seemed to enjoy it, but was glad to come home. We forgot Vernon, her pink octopus, but he was in bad condition so I just bought a new one. 
Ruby's spay went well, she milked it for everything she could, whining, caring on and only eating out of my hand. But the next day she was fine and I had to go to work so she would stop playing. 
Her first encounter with real wildlife was an armadillo in the backyard. she cornered it under the dog house and didn't know WHAT to do with it. 

Her favorite game right now is sitting on the couch, dropping
 her toys and chewies on the floor and barking at me to pick them up. She is a two year old! 
Not a great picture of me, but I love the expression on her face!


A change is blowing in the wind. I'm leaving the literal swamps of Florida and headed for the political quagmire of Washington, DC. I've been offered a job working with the USDA in the CSREES . I guess I'm going to start talking in acronyms (even more than I already do!). This is the building I will be working in:
And this is what is directly across the street:
I'm looking forward to eating my lunch on a park bench looking at the river. 
I've started looking for an apartment, and boy is it going to be a headache. Housing prices are extraordinarily high anywhere near DC, but luckily I will be getting a significant raise. Taking Ruby will be a challenge also, but I'm pretty sure it can be done. It seems like everyone has a friend that lives in DC or has lived there themselves, so I'm getting a lot of advice.
 I am NOT looking forward to going through all of my things and throwing out the majority of it. I need to prioritize my belongings and figure out what I might be able to sell and what is worth taking with me. Most (if not all) of my furniture is disposable, but I like it and don't want to start from scratch. But honestly, it doesn't need to travel 800 miles. So, anyone need any household items?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

+ running list

things I like:

People who are nice and don't have to be. I was leaving work one day last week and on the stairs of my building a girl passing me said "I love the color of your sweater! It looks so good on you!" Out of the blue. I've never seen the girl before. Makes me go "aw, people are all right. Humanity is going to be just fine."
I should really do this more. Occasionally I will tell the random stranger that I like their bag or shoes or dress. I usually get a shy smile of surprise and a quizzical thank you. But mostly I think it in my head and never voice my positive thought. It feels good to have people acknowledge you. Other random good deeds also qualify under this, like: holding the door/elevator for some one, returning a dropped item, letting people cut in the grocery line. So basically I am awed at common courtesy.
Free trips. Yay! I get to go to DC for 24 hours! for free! Oh yeah, I do have to interview for a job in that time period. and explore the city to see if I can mesh with it.

This is the first post in my + (positive) running list. I might add a -(negative) running list, but I have to think about it. I want to think good thoughts and highlight what is right in the world. But I might want a place to rant. We will see.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Greetings from ______________

It frustrates me when people travel somewhere but then never leave their hotel room or the confines of the 'tourist' district. How can you say you have been to a place if you haven't actually walked a street, dined at a local restaurant and made and attempt to get to know the place? It can be a very daunting task to get to know a city you are in for only a few days, especially if you don't know anyone there. But that is not an excuse anymore!
I just discovered a service that is offered in some cities: Greeters. Greeters are residents of a place that volunteer their time to show a visitor around. They introduce the visitor to their favorite local haunts, explain public transportation and, most importantly, personalize an otherwise overwhelming place. And it's FREE! (at least in NYC).
With this type of service available, it would be much easier to explore a new place that you are not familiar with. This is also a great PR tactic for cities with tarnished reputations. If you have friendly people showing you why they live in a place, it's hard to form a bad opinion.
There are Greeter programs in New York City, Chicago, Fairbanks, Houston, Toronto, Melbourne and Adelaide, Australia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; the Thanet district in Kent, England; Paris and Nantes, France; the City of The Hague, Netherlands; and ShenZhen, China. I think I will try to utilize this service if I ever find myself in a place that offers it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

have you ever put gel in a dog's hair?

hmm me either. I'm trying to remember if it is against the rules when showing dogs. I gave Ruby a bath this evening and started playing with all the cowlicks along her back as she was drying. If I just put some gel on her, she would look more like a border collie with all her hair standing up. Is that animal abuse? 

Ruby finds the weirdest things in the backyard. We had a photo shoot with some of the odd items that she let me put together. Some items: a coconut, walnut shells, avocado seeds, and bones. Lots of bones. Big bones. She wouldn't leave the avocado alone so it's not pictured. Every time I think she has found everything in the yard worth finding she brings up something new.
Do I talk about my dog too much? Perhaps I need a new hobby. Oh and I'm not going to put gel in her hair. She would prefer mousse. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Peanut Festival

Mary, Benny and I were looking for something to do Saturday after our plans to go tubing at Ginnie Springs fell through.  So I loaded them up and took them with me to Wacahoota to watch the Gator game with my family. Since Benny is Australian and has been in Florida for just a few days it was his first experience with American football. I think he enjoyed watching it with the rabid Gator fans in my family. After the game (ok, we left during the 3rd quarter, don't tell anyone) We went to the Williston Peanut Festival. Because it was a little late in the afternoon everything was winding down. But there were still a good amount of people out. 
There was one booth with an interesting mix of items. Some of them were antiques, some junk and other art items. This was a display:

Since we are (were) grad students, everyone knows we work for peanuts.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

ruby's whining

Ruby wishes I was a cooler mom. I can see it in her eyes every time we go to PetsMart. "Why can't I have the squeaky? Why am I not allowed to lick the little girl? Fargo's mommy would let him eat the treats off the bottom shelf." 
She also gives me the same look at the dog park. "Stop being so protective. Let me play in the mud. Why can't I sniff that pit bull's butt?"
She judges me. "Why can't I have a bonfire like our neighbors? like BOTH our neighbors? Why can't I visit them and their fires? I think they LOVE me constantly barking at them through the fence, telling them what they are doing wrong and why they should pay attention to me. The dust that I kick up when I play chase with the other dogs tastes wonderful in their drinks. I like it in my water. Why won't you open the gate? Do we have to go to bed so early?"
"Why can't you be cool?"

more training for motherhood - this time with the dog.

Ruby is about 5 months old now. I can't believe how fast she's growing up! 
She weighs 25 lbs and has a really long and lean body and tail. She has also lost 2 teeth in the last couple days. Her behavior has gotten better, she listens most of the time, although she has selective hearing sometimes when I call her. 
The other morning, Ruby was particularly rambunctious because of the cool air. I had a faculty and staff meeting at 8:30 so I had to get to work a little earlier than usual. Of course I had stayed out till almost midnight the night before at the Brad Paisley concert so I was moving a little slow. I put Ruby outside and left the backdoor open because she was being very needy that morning. Well I sat down on the couch with my chocolate milk and my laptop after I had gotten dressed and even blew my hair dry. Ruby came bounding in at full speed, launching herself at me. She hit my glass, and half of my milk went up and all over my head, my shirt, my couch. Luckily it missed my laptop.
 I had 10 minutes before I had to leave for campus, so I sprayed my hair down with water and tried to comb it out. I took inventory of my clothes, and I was thankfully wearing a brown shirt that didn't show the spots too bad. The rest of the day I worried that I smelled like milk and wondered if people could see the stiff section of my hair that I missed with the water. 

Jewel-toned Paisley

Thursday night, throngs of country music fans flocked to the O-dome to see Brad Paisley and... Jewel? The same Jewel that sang painfully woeful breakup songs in middle school? Yes, the one and the same. It seems like a slightly odd pairing, but I guess Jewel has tried to position her folksy sound more towards country fans. And of course, what is country music without breakup songs? 
So Emily, Georgia, Cathy and I went. I'm not a huge country fan, but I like Brad Paisley because he is witty and his tunes are catchy. 
I was going to upload a video of Jewel singing one of her hits (You were meant for me), but Blogger seems to not be a fan of folk-pop music. Anyway there were people moving back and forth in front of the camera as a result of all the DRAMA that was happening. There was a group of young people who couldn't find their seats, mainly because there was another group of young people sitting in them. So they confronted them and made them move. Apparently they knew each other though. I love people watching at concerts. It's almost better than the music.
 Oh and the concert was excellent. Brad did not disappoint. It was probably one of the best large-venue concerts I've been to (but I usually avoid large venues). 
Speaking of people watching, Emily makes for good people watching. She loves her pickles. A lot. She steals them off my plate. And then talks to them. 

Monday, September 29, 2008


I went to Tampa this weekend to switch out my car and I ended up tagging along to a Bachelorette party downtown. This was a golf-themed party, so argyle was in style. It was a great time, and I think the bride had a lot of fun. The outfits attracted a lot of attention, made our group more cohesive and distinguished us from all the other bridal parties out and about. 

Playing Mommy

While Emily was out of town last week I got the opportunity to take her spot in the family. Of course there is no substitute for Mommy, but I tried. Kaity, Will and even John were all relatively well behaved. They listened to me for the most part and didn't throw too many tantrums (well John had that one... but I gave him a beer and he was ok). 
One of my favorite things about little kids is all the great things they say. They are constantly surprising me, either with astute observations or an ever expanding vocabulary.

My favorite thing Kaity told me was that I shouldn't worry, I would marry a boy. And until then, I had her as a girlfriend. 

I'm glad the 3-year-old has confidence in my future.

investigating Indiana

It seems like I've been on the road for the last month or so. I visited Anna and Sam in Lafayette, IN, for a few days to check out their new set ups. While there, it constantly rained, but at least it was a reasonable temperature. Their apartments are fabulous, converted old houses in the historic district of town. I'm sure it will be pretty with a coat of snow, but also really cold. 
I met the girls' new friends and also saw our friends from the Honduras trip. It was great catching up with everyone and meeting the new people in my girls' lives.
The highlight of my visit was Breakfast Club at Purdue. Breakfast Club is a very unique tradition. For every home football game, Purdue students dress up in ridiculous costumes and go to the bar. At 7am. We saw everything from the Hungry, Hungry Hippos to Indians to Michael Phelps (with his speedo and gold medals of course). The girls and I dressed straight out of the 1980's, and I told people we were the Bangles. Our friends dressed as rednecks and pulled off the look impeccably. I would post pictures, but they could be used as evidence against me in the future.

Monday, August 11, 2008

a Flaig-influenced sunday

Yesterday Anna and Gretchen were in town and volunteered their experience and energy to help me make my house a little more homey. This is really the first house I have had that I am allowed to hang things (aka put holes in the wall). Needless to say, I have no confidence in my abilities. So my two wonderful friends came with all their knowledge from their interior designer mother. They are also very creative, innovative and handy. The results are phenomenal - in my 'hobby room' I have three rows of shelves on two walls for record covers. It looks so good. I'm really very impressed that it works, looks great and only took an afternoon.

In my living room, we hung a collage of internationally-themed items. The large tapestry to the left is of Blue-Footed Boobies. It was a present from Anna, from the Galapagos Islands. The big plate I brought back from Mexico. The fish (on the wood plate) is from the Virgin Islands. The other items are just random things I had. 

Finally in my bedroom we hung this:
 I have been trying to do this for some time. I got the two birds a year ago when I visited our extended family in Ohio. A great relative of some kind crocheted them. I've been looking for a way to display them, but I couldn't find a cheap frame that was big enough that I liked. This frame is from Anna's old bedroom, and has a cork backing. So we just covered it in fabric and used straight pins to attach the birds. I think it looks fabulous, and it's exactly what I imagined. More projects to come include hanging curtains (once I find them), finding lampshades (I have great bases but the College Town appears to have a deficit of shades) and hanging some more art in the bedroom.

Friday, July 25, 2008

weed garden aka my backyard

I spent a little time this evening out evaluating the backyard. It's a pretty big space, with absolutely no grass. Instead, I have a healthy crop of weeds coming along nicely. the larger ones (spanish needle and poke berry) are waist high. There is virginia creeper and stinging nettles along with mimosa trees and a very prolific vine I can't identify. I think tomorrow I am going to try and hold back the invasives. There is a lawn mower shared between me and the other half of the duplex, so I'm going to do some bush hogging (I don't think mowing is the appropriate word for it).  I'm also going to see what kind of hanging baskets they have at Lowe's. 

also while we were outside, Ruby tried to exit through the gate - while it was closed. She is small enough to fit between the gate and the post, and she knows it. As she was trying to slip out, she looked back at me (because I was scolding her) and continued on. So I blocked her way with some extra pavers that were in the yard (you can see them in the picture above). She didn't think that was very sporting of me. Hopefully this can keep her contained when she is outside, at least for a little while. As soon as she realized her hole was plugged she started walking the fence line looking for another. She even got up on a log and looked like she was judging the distance over the fence. She is going to be a handful! I don't usually let her outside by herself, because she is so little, but occasionally I let her explore without me hovering over her. I think it's good for building her independence. She is also usually very good about coming when called mainly because she is rewarded with treats, but it works!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

photography on the road

I just stumbled across a great website with advice for novice photographers who are interested in travel photography. Needless to say, I not only want a new DSLR camera, but also a trip, somewhere, anywhere!
the abcde's of travel photography

5 essential tips for the budding travel photographer

How to take better photos of landmarks

These are some photos I took in Taiwan last spring that I'm pretty proud of...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Puppy Vs. Plant

Who needs goats or a lawn mower when you have a vicious herbivore puppy? The weeds don't stand a chance- I think I need to buy hanging baskets for any flowers I want!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Arachnid Memories

Emily's recent post on Garden Living about a spider we found on her porch had me recalling arachnid stories from my not-so-distant youth.

Spike the Spider

I spent the first half of my childhood in a house that was ancient by Florida standards. It was 100+ years old, built in the cracker tradition, meaning it was lifted 3 feet off the ground, had windows for cross ventilation, a nice wide porch, a tin roof and was built from pine and cypress. It also had no heat or AC.

The house had plenty of character, but unfortunately, this also meant there were plenty of cracks and crevices for creepy-crawlies to get through. We constantly had visitors and learned at an early age to just ignore them. Our mother taught us that spiders (especially wolf spiders) were our friends, hunting down and eating the nefarious cockroaches (Mom also instilled a slight panic in me when it comes to roaches. Thanks Mom). So we learned to live with our friends the spiders. One in particular sticks out in my memory: Spike.

Spike inhabited the corner of the living room behind Dad's chair. He was probably the same size as the palm of my hand now, so just imagine how giant he looked to a 6 year old girl. He would climb the wall and hang out right above the paneling, where the wood was painted so you could see him really well. It seems like he lived there forever although it probably wasn't very long. I just considered him another one of our many pets, and he contributed by eating bugs. It seems like we eventually figured out Spike was a girl because of an egg sack. Which brings me to another encounter...

Bathing with babies

Another memory that is pretty vivid is my experience with a mother spider and her young. I don't know how old I was, but I was taking baths by myself so probably around 8 years old. I went to fill the bathtub, and there was a big spider in it. Showing the values my mother instilled, i went to shoo it out of the tub. Well one behavior of wolf spiders is that they carry their egg sacks and their young. This spider was a particularly good mother and very productive. babies started streaming off of her, what seemed like thousands. They went EVERYWHERE, and really surprised/scared me. That is a shocking sight, if you ask me! Remembering still makes me shudder. Here is a good mother with her babies:

Mom is probably groaning that I'm telling the world that we lived with spiders and all sorts of things. Next on the memory parade: The snake and the bathtub.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I've told myself since I graduated high school that I would get a puppy once I was out of school and somewhat settled. Well that time has come. When I started looking for my new apartment in Gainesville, one of the requirements I had was the ability to have a dog at some point (along with a washer and dryer). I've been scoping out the rescues in Gainesville to see if there were any dogs that really caught my eye and my heart. I had decided that I wanted  a dog, not really a puppy. I also wanted to get it from a rescue. Well fate had different plans and I found the cutest puppy on craigslist. 
It was a very shady deal. The puppy was located in Jacksonville, meaning I had  to drive an hour and a half to get her. At this point I thought she was a he and eight weeks old. well it turned out she was a girl, most likely not eight weeks old, and both people I talked to (one on the phone, one in person) seemed to have different stories that didn't quite match up. I felt so bad for the little darling that I agreed to take her, even though she didn't have her vet papers, toys or anything else. I just didn't want her to go back to wherever she came from, and it seemed like they would give her to whoever had the money. We have a vet appointment for this afternoon, so they will be able to tell me how old she really is, and if she has any major issues.
So now I have a very cute, very little girl. She is supposed to be a border collie/aussie mix, which might be correct. She absolutely HATES being separated from me, even when she can see me she still whines and carries on (like when I took a shower this morning). She also has an odd habit of talking while she eats her food. Maybe she will grow out of it.

UPDATE: We just got back from the vet and she weighs in at a whopping 5 pounds. She slept through her entire appointment, even her shot, and everyone was worried if she acted like that all the time. If only they could see her racing around the house biting feet and shoes! She seems tuckered out from her first day in her new home. 

AND I am still taking suggestions on names...  

Thursday, July 10, 2008

a fourth like none other

For July 4th Caro and I made our way to Pensacola to spend the weekend with our good friend Sam. Sam just got back from a 2 month wander around South America, and we were very happy to be able to reunite some of the college gang before we all go our separate ways in the real world.
Sam's family lives on the sound in Perdido Key, so the water is literally a few steps from their back door. In addition to eating delicious food all day, we played in the water. The neighborhood association set up a giant slip'n'slide which we adults warmed up before the kids got there. Here is Miguel going down. It ended in the bay, and like all concerned citizens we diligently asked about the soap they were using to make it slippery and slidey. It was eco-friendly boat soap, so no harm was done to the bay. We checked the traps on the neighbor's dock and found a couple of these rather ugly crabs.

The water was beautiful and on Saturday Sam and I used a seine net to see what we could catch. Some little pin fish and a baby sheepshead were all that got scooped, but we were accompanied by a group of stingrays zooming around us. They seemed very curious and got really close.

It was a very relaxing weekend, filled with good friends and laughter. We didn't really do much, but it was one of those times that you will always remember and will be telling stories about when you get together 30 years from now.

As we all go our separate ways, I have to wonder how often we will get to do this in the future. As we move away, start careers, get married and start families we will see each other less and less. But I know we will always have a bond to keep us together. I was lucky to find such a wonderful group of friends to make my college years special.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Parents' Pets

Pales (Paylees) enjoying the sunshine. She'll be six months next month!

Henry is not amused by the puppy's antics.

Tropical Heatwave

I went to Tampa this weekend to visit with my parents and go to Tropical Heatwave. Heatwave is an annual concert put on by WMNF, the local community radio station. It's a chance to find new music that you might not normally be exposed to. Most of the musicians haven't played Tampa before or are up and coming. It wasn't quite as good as last year, but still worth it. We arrived at 5:30pm and got home at 1am. I was extremely proud of my parents. Only minor annoyance at the late night!
It was great people watching if you didn't let the crowd get to you. There was plenty of tie-dye and hippy stink (patchouli), but also a great variety in people. It amazes me how people can appreciate such different genres of music and get along so well. The standout performances of the night included Julie Black, a local blues/torch singer, Blue Vipers of Brooklyn, a traditional jazz and blues band that practices in the the Subway, Rocket 88, a rockabilly group from Orlando with a crazy show, Soul Rebels, a brass band from New Orleans with hip hop influences. There were many many other great musicians, but these stick out.

Birmingham and back

I got Taye the Macbook back last week, fully functional but missing all of my files and programs. So I lost all my music and photos (original files and those not good enough for Facebook), oh and all of those pesky papers from grad school. so it's kind of appropriate that I am starting fresh with new memory.
So what did I do to celebrate the return of my faithful laptop? Why road trip to Alabama of course! Hannah had a job interview (still crossing our fingers to hear the news) and I didn't have much to do (besides finish all those freelance projects!). So I tagged along for the 8-hour trip. Hannah is persistently pushing a move to Birmingham for me. Of course others are pulling for the frozen tundra of the North. I will go where the jobs lead!
Birmingham was really nice. The weather was unusually cold, and there had been tornadoes in the area, but it was still very pretty. The hydrangeas were blooming everywhere as well as the dogwood. All the people we met were extremely friendly. I don't know if I would know how to react to every shop/restaurant owner exchanging pleasantries with me.

This is a view of downtown Birmingham from Vulcan park.