Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A project.

You know how there are some blogs that you get in the habit of reading, just because you stumbled upon them? Well I have a few of those. There's one in particular that I love, the blog of a friend of a friend (actually the friend of a sibling's ex-boyfriend, if we want to get technical). It's just a regular blog, pretty because she has web design experience, and I really like her writing. After I read her posts I often find that I begin composing posts in my head with a similar voice, which of course never come out like I wish they would. I think there were a few times when I almost even met her in person, but I never actually did. Several times I've wanted to comment on her posts, but something stopped me...maybe I liked being a secret reader, or maybe I just didn't want to startle her.  Silly, I know.

Anyway, I've decided to rip off her new idea, which is part group project, part blog challenge:  inviting readers of the blog and friends to submit photos, self-portraits to be exact, with the theme "Your Environment." That can mean whatever you want it to mean. The catch? Photos should be taken with either webcam or old-school digital equipment only: think PhotoBooth, plain digital cam, or even cell phone. No altering of images at all except to add borders.

For example:

Self Portrait with Salad Bowl

Feel free to either add your photos to the Flickr group here, or post them on your own blog.  Or hell, send them to me and I'll post them for you if you want!


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Clear air.

It's hard to blog every day when you're in the middle of nowhere with not even cell phone service, let alone internet. Which is where I was. For a few days.

On the weekend we drove like a million hours to Hayward, Wisconsin, where Brian's friend's family has a house.  It's one of those places that's decorated with images of frolicking bears, moose silhouettes, and old-timey snowshoes.  The whole area was blanketed in white, and we spent our time playing games and cooking in the warmth, as well as snowmobiling (or "snow machining," as Susie says Alaskans say), across the vast, frozen lake. I was as freaked out as my mom would be at first ("On a frozen lake?!"), but it took me about three minutes to become accustomed to the air on my face, the bouncing over treacherous bumps, and the high speeds. I would have called them breakneck speeds, except that when we got back Brian made my wussy ass get off the snowmobile so he could take it, alone, up to speeds of 100 mph. I guess I wasn't quite as daredevil as I thought. But whatever! Anything that requires a full face helmet (see photo) is adventurous in my book.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Yuriy was the first person to ever teach me how to hold an oar handle, when I was 15, and I knew him for eleven years after that.

He taught me about form and power, discipline and endurance. He was the best motivator I ever encountered, and an incredible personality. A former Soviet women's rowing coach from the Ukraine, he knew how to guide people gradually yet constantly, pushing them past their thresholds and making them realize their strength, while at the same time making them laugh. He helped me carry my boat to the dock every day (even though I should have done it myself), and when he patted my back and said "good girl," I knew he approved of my work. And I wanted his approval-- if I knew he was waiting for me at a practice, very few excuses could cause me to skip it.

He was kind, and aware, and an entertainer. A constant presence at the boathouse, he touched the lives of so many, my entire family included. I can't imagine what it will be like without his greetings at the gate ("Good moooorning! You sleepy girl?"), his tools and his tinkering, his buzz words ("jump!" "special squats" "rest time!" "ups! ups!"), his coach boat zipping around and causing waves for everybody, or his classical music playing while we suffer on the ergs. One of the last times I saw him, he asked if he could accompany us to Argentina to work as our "personal security." I wish he had! When I row I'll miss looking at his handwritten workout plan taped to the stern, but most of all, I'll miss things like his facial expressions, his voice, and the possibility of in impromptu waltz with him on the dock.

He lived so well, though, and I can only hope to be as strong and committed as he was at his age. He will continue to inspire us, and he will be missed.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Glory hole, indeed.

Possibly the best part of learning a new skill is learning the unique terminology. I thought rowing vocabulary sounded dirty (e.g. the coxswain commands you to take harder strokes but avoid catching crabs), but now I believe that glassblowing may win the prize. "Puntie," "annealer," and, ahem, "glory hole" are just a few of the everyday gems. Add to that the fact that you work with glowing, radiating pits of heat, and it's pretty much amazing.

Omg, glassblowing is so wacky and cool! Let me be clear, I didn't actually do any literal blowing this time, apparently that's just another part of the technique and the next step for me, if they get me back in the studio for more classes. But I DID get to wear sunglasses and use a long-ass stainless steel pole and tools to gather, heat up, apply color to, and mold some super duper hot glass! My class was one-on-one and I left a lovely paperweight cooling in some crazy machine that gradually takes it from like 960 degrees to zero.

Apparently that process takes a few days, so I don't technically have my creation in-hand yet. And I have no idea whether I will actually pursue this kind of thing further, but I do know that I loved it, that I can now talk intelligently for a very short while on a new subject, and that it was an amazing, fun present. Thanks Bri!

Friday, February 08, 2008


So if my last post was late on Wednesday night (10 is late for me!) and the next one is early on Friday morning, does that count as a Thursday post? How about two today?

Crap, better get thinking.

What's really on my mind is the fact that I'm having the craftiest weekend ever! First, a long long time ago (Christmas 2006), Brian gave me the awesome gift of an intro-to-glassblowing class. It's one of those things I'd said I had always wanted to try, and he definitely delivered. Unfortunately, I couldn't get myself together to schedule it until now. I'm super psyched, all I know is that it's one-on-one and I get to make my own object.

Continuing the crafty trend, I am going to finally begin setting up a few silkscreening things. It won't be the beautiful workshop where I learned serigrafia:

Papelera Palermo, te extraaaaa├▒o!

But I'm excited to make some of my own stuff. Now if I can just manage to not get too distracted...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Throat of Fire.

When we were in Ecuador, we spent a while enjoying a gorgeous area, full of mountains and waterfalls and hiking and biking and thermal baths, which also just happened to be right under an active volcano. Active, as in constantly puffing. The last time it erupted was in 2006, and then it erupted today!

Holy crap!

According to AP/NYTimes, the volcano shot ash 6 miles into the air, and 3,000 people had to be evacuated. Sounds like the land in the area is greatly affected and sort of cut-off for the time being, but no major human disasters reported, fortunately. I hope people can begin to experience this amazing area again soon.

Isn't it crazy?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Nameless Blog Challenge

Let's face it, I've been wanting to be one of those people that updates her blog often. And yesterday I found this thing.

I should totally do this! Right? Should I?



The game was exciting at the end and all, but more importantly, this was my very favorite Super Bowl commercial:


(Addendum: Because I made too many toffee almond bars for the Super Bowl yesterday and I didn't want to be surrounded by them at home, I left a tupperware full of them in the kitchen/lunch area at work. They were gone within two hours. I'm just saying.)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Falling Slowly

Have you seen the movie Once? Because if you haven't, you should. I'm not one to do Oscar lists or anything like that, but I thought this film was particularly beautiful, simple, and different.

It's a musical of sorts, but nothing like you would expect. The film is about musicians, and the actors in the leading roles are musicians in real life, and composed and performed all of the songs. I just found their performances to be so honest and sincere, and the music so melodic, that I'm thinking about it long after seeing it about a month ago. Check it out! (If you're interested in more, the stars, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, were interviewed on NPR's Sound Opinions about their quick rise from struggling musicians to international stars.)