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4th of July

When we started planning our summer adventure, we made sure that it started before the 4th of July. It can be one of my favorite holidays and I’m always a little disappointed to be in another country for it. Canada has it’s Canada day 3 days earlier on July 1st, but it’s just not the same.

As with all holidays you have really got to find a place to celebrate it right and I’m pretty sure the best place for the 4th of July is Horsehead Bay on Washington’s Olympic penninla. Family friends have a house on the bay and they know how to do things right. We arrived to a patio full of food and flowers and friends. The table centerpiece was a giant bowl of steamed clams picked up right on the beach below their house and cooked up with just a little bit of celery. As fast as we ate them the bowl just kept filling up. While our hostess Jane manned the clams, our host Jess pulled the teens in the group around a bay. Two years ago when the temperature was closer to 80 this looked like more fun, but I guess if your dad offers to pull you around in a boat, you take him up on the offer.

Lest you question the superiority of this 4th of July event by noting that clams are not BBQ, don’t worry there was plenty of burgers to go around and of course dessert, American style.

Then of course there were the fireworks. We had made a requisete stop at the Indian reservation for fireworks but even though we had bottle rockets, roman candles and real sparklers we really couldn’t beat what was all around us.

See, on the bay here, there is almost a competition between households up and down the waterway as to who can do the best fireworks display. Starting before the sun went down around 9:30 we watched thousands of dollars go up in smoke all around us. Our dock’s crew waited until the sun had completely set before launching their $4k worth of kaboom.

The whole place sounded like a war zone, but I love fireworks and I’m happy to thank Francis Scott Key for getting us to associate big noises and bright sparks of fire with independence and national pride. Sometimes when watching a particularly beautiful bloom I hand help but hum to myself  “…the bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.” It’s a little sappy and perhaps misplaced, but it’s Americana at it’s best and I love it.

Where ya been bluebird?

Oh the sloth I've been

I realize checking this site that I haven’t written in almost 6 months. I even had trouble remembering how to log on. In truth I’ve had trouble figuring out exactly what is worth writing about. This blog doesn’t have a clear focus and though I wish I had a eccentric passion like my friend at Bashfully Designed does for mail, I don’t. I don’t have enough drive to write exclusively about architecture, rowing, gardening or Vancouver, the 4 topics I appear to have covered most. So this will continue to be a journal in the most traditional of senses and probably only of interest to my friends. Frankly those are the blogs I like to read and I always wish my friends would write more about themselves.

So now for a quick run down of the last 6 months.

It was a good semester for me at school. I had a great studio with John Bass which included a trip to the California River Delta and the opportunity to see my Cali folk.

We went on a successful family trip to Costa Rica with my family while the Olympics were here in Vancouver.

I trained my butt off all winter for rowing and raced the Windy cup with my team (see post to follow).

Colin got a job as assistant manager at Starbucks… I know what you are thinking, ask him about it some time.

Colin also got into school and will be attending the University of Illinois, Campaign-Urbana next year. I’m sorry to everyone who hoped we would move to their cities. We hoped we would to, but you gotta go to the school that’s right and U of I is finally that school for Colin. If you are an academic and there is a conference for you at U of I you can stay with us, one of the plus sides of a city you’ve never heard of is that we can afford a two bedroom.

School got out for me in early May. I futzed for a few days, figured I wouldn’t find a job for just two months, but then a lead came through and I did. So now I’m working full time+, rowing 3 days a week and coxing/coaching for the learn to row program 2 days a week. I’m going to be bet by the end of next month and in need of our trip to Yosemite/San Diego and our drive out to the Midwest.

with any luck this won’t be the last post from me for the next 6 months.

This Year- 2010

My year will be packed and I anticipate a little rough. I have a busy semester and I’m starting my thesis. In September Colin will go off to school somewhere and I’ll do the design portion of my thesis here alone. It seems at the outset a little bleak, but I think there will be more in there than I can see in my crystal ball.

The resolutions are few, but important.

  • Keep my friends close- Being in Austin reaffirmed how important the friends (even those not there) I have spread out across the country are to me. With them I feel most alive and myself. Colin and I are like a little island in my mind and its important to send out the carrier pigeons more often.
  • Do a good thesis- Damn it, I choose a school with a thesis on purpose, stand tall, have conviction, do well.
  • Make sure to do the things I want to do and sometimes let them come before the things I have to do.

So really, that’s it. It encapsulates a lot, but I think that will keep the bow pointed in the right directions

A Review of Resolutions

I did this in March and I’ve pretty much forgotten about it since then. Working was very different than going to school. Still, let’s check in

  • Focus: when it is time to focus focus– I worked in a very quiet office where focusing was easy. I even managed to do a decent job in my outside work project like the Future Social Competition. Man, did we pull that together when push came to shove.
  • Reflect: that’s what this whole things is about. I’ve found recently that I often don’t have anything to say about what I am doing. I think that it is not because I actually have nothing to say (come now), but because I haven’t taken the time to clarify things for myself. I’m not even sure what I meant by this any more. I think working really helped me clarify my convictions even if I didn’t do too much reflecting. Hopefully school won’t confuse me again. In terms of actual output. I’ve got 60 posts on this blog so that ain’t bad.
  • Time for myself: That means taking the time to workout and do some pottery.– The pottery thing never really panned out, but I have found time to work out in the form of rowing. It’s gotten intense though and I’m no longer sure it is entirely for myself. Still I’ve done a good job taking time to read, just chat or walk with Colin, despite always wanting more of that. In the words of Amynta “we are so good at this, why don’t we do it all the time.”
  • Do not over commit: This really just means thinking for a few seconds before I volunteer to do something.– Okay, so while I was working I really did maybe over commit with work, rowing and FS, but I handled it pretty well and I look back on those as good times. I might have over committed for the semester, but I did back out of one class for my sanity
  • Use my camera: for more that just photographing models- I did a good job taking pictures of weddings. This I should work on still.

Well, it looks like I did a good job on my resolutions. I think the secret is making them very vague.

Best of 2009

Best of 2009

It’s a little late, but this is something my good friend Ashley does every year and I always really appreciate it. Years are good arbitrary markers to see what has happened and looking at these images it appears to have been a very long and very wonderful year over all. I tend to be pessimistic and focus on the negative when I think back, but when I actually look, it’s been pretty good. This year I’ll also try to do what my friend Amynta does and write down the really wonderful days and what made them so. My year is pretty well planned out so this will be a good way to find the little beautiful things.

You know you live in a shithole when…

It’s not when the roof starts leaking for the second time in six months, in the same spot.

It’s not when the roofers say “we tried, but its such a mess up there its hard to know if you’ve fixed anything”

It’s when the neighbor says in stilted English “who need fix roof, free shower” and laughs leaving you in misery in the elevator.

Is it possible to have another thought about Facebook

Like most of my age group, I’ve been on Facebook (the social network they are talking about when they talk about social networks) for the past 5 years or so. While its still a media phenomenon and despite the fact that a teenager I know recently told me that what I thought was the next big thing, twitter, was only for old people and that Facebook was still where its at, I thought Facebook had more or less run its course for me as many of my friends have completely lost interest and don’t even bother to update the city they are in.

Turns out I can still be surprised. While it didn’t surprise me at all when my mom, my aunts and even my professors joined my social network, I was a little surprised to get friended but Laura, the other “new girl, outsider” in my class in Sicily while I was a high school exchange student. I had been facebook friends with my host sisters from Sicily for several years, but they are all super international so it was no surprise that they were connected. It has been my experience that Facebook has moved a little slower around the world in all groups expect that extremely international, English speaking group my host sisters belonged to.

Nonetheless, I friended Laura, no second thoughts. When I started thinking twice was when someone in Laura’s network, Paulo, friended me. It’s embarassing to say that it took me nearly a day to remember a person I spent a year sitting in class with, but it did and I only remebered after I started digging into their friends and realized that by friending Laura I had connected to a whole year of my high school life, almost everyone I had socialized with in Sicily was part of this friend network.

I recently heard a professor who had interviewed his graduate students about facebook (most of whom are probably my age) say that what was most amazing to them about was that they could connect to almost anyone they had ever met. This is an odd realization to the next generation (more on that later) who takes this for granted, but its astounding for my generation, being on the edge of the precipice as we are.

While my Sicilian friends and I exchanged addresses and e-mails when I left Sicily I don’t think we ever really planned on staying in touch. I don’t think I sent more than one letter nor did I receive more than one. With my regular high school classmates I suppose I expected to see them again either visiting my family or going to a reunion in some distant future. The Sicilians I didn’t think I would. Here in lies the extreme power of the distant closeness in Facebook.