Saturday, May 31, 2008

Scenes from a camping weekend

Okay, pictures of Memorial Day weekend. First, Shorty tromping along a path in a small southwestern Utah state park:

It was a bit overcast, and it was also evening when we hiked this path, just before a rainstorm. The photos don't quite do the luminescent orange stone and sand and black lava rock justice.

The next morning, we hiked through Zion National Park, a beautiful canyon with striking little waterfalls spitting and trickling over and out of rocks. This waterfall was about 500 feet above us at the highest of what's called the Emerald Pools, so named because they're all green from algae (but still quite pretty).

The image below is of Weeping Rock, a spot in a cliff where two types of rocks come together, one of which is less porous than the other. Hence, water that lands on top of the cliff ends up running out from between the rocks and creates a waterfall right out of the cliff's face. What's cool, though, is that scientists have figured out that the water that comes out of the rocks takes 1200 years to filter down and come out. Talk about mindblowing.

Another beautiful shot of Zion Canyon.

We then drove over to Bryce Canyon just in time to experience late-day sun on the orange and white stone canyon walls and thin pillars shaped by time and weather.
This tree was growing in the middle of a narrow, dark canyon. Quite the metaphor.
After watching the sun set, we camped at Bryce Canyon, then headed back to Denver, nine hours in our little SUV, cracking jokes and singing potty-humor parodies of every song that came on the radio.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

And a very nice weekend it was.

Overall, it was a good Memorial Weekend trip. Guy and I ended up in southwestern Utah, visiting St. George, Utah and Zion National Park as well as Bryce Canyon National Park. We didn't realize we were only two hours from Las Vegas, where Guy and I got married in 2005 and go for our anniversary every year, as well as the new home of Baxtersmum and her menagerie of bad critters. When Guy gets the umpteen digital photos downloaded, I'll post a few of the best, but here are some written highlights:

--Utah loves them some sheepies. Every third farm had a field full of sheep, which i loved and Guy hated because when I pass a sheep field, I shriek "SHEEPIES!11!!!!!" like a third grader. However, there were also plenty of cows and horsies, and even a few antelope and mule deer and a couple of wild turkeys and aggressive squirrels. And llamas. I llove llamas.

--Traffic was less than we usually see, which was to be expected given high fuel prices. The least Guy and I paid all weekend was about $3.87 a gallon. What surprised me though was the amount of European and Asian tourists. At least half the tourists at Zion and Bryce Canyon were European or Asian. I heard a fair amount of German/Slavic/Dutch folks, several French families, and three British groups. And there were craptons of Japanese, Korean, and Indian subcontinental peeps. Well, there's an upside to the weak dollar, huh?

--Americans still don't know how to behave towards visitors. I saw an American guy stop and glare at a German/Dutch guy who brushed him arm-on-arm at Bryce Canyon, and the European guy didn't even turn around. I can see how the American thought him rude, but hello, folks: Europeans are used to much smaller personal space than we are. Bumping into people doesn't bug them near as much as it does us. Please stop interpreting everything they do as "rude", okay?

--It's not a good idea to eat baked beans and then sleep in a Ford Explorer Sport with your loved one. *funk!*

--Guy's best quote of the whole trip, with apologies to Rev. Kit: "The problem I have with organized religion is that I'm not willing to lower my morals to their standards. All that shit in the Ten Commandments, I already do. Every religion does. The rest of the rules, like no gay marriage or sujugating women, those are bullshit rules designed to make them feel different from the rest."

--It's never too late to learn something. I'm usually pretty useless on these trips, but this time I figured out how to unload the truck and inflate and make the bed. Finally, I'm contributing something to the trip. About time--it's only been eight years.

--Vacations with Guy are really fun.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Why live out here if you're not gonna go look at it now and again?

Guy and I are going camping for the holiday weekend, and why not? We've got a campsite in southwestern Utah and a nine-hour drive in which to decide where we're going to go camping. Weather should be a little coolish but decent overall. You just have to pack and wear layers to prepare for any kind of weather. I don't mind the long drive, partially because we rarely drive our little SUV (in which we sleep and camp), so it's not like we're having to fill that thing with gas every week. We only put about 2,000 miles on it a year, tops. I alos enjoy the drive and the ensuing hikes because Guy and I spend a lot of time talking, like actually saying interesting and meaningful stuff. Sometimes we end up disagreeing on stuff or even raising our voices (usually that's me), but it's the kind of conversation you don't usually have hanging out at the house watching ESPN. Anyway, we're looking forward to a nice three-day weekend, and I wish the same for the small and hardy group that admits under duress that they are WAD readers. Rokk on.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'm gone not even four days, and this is what I come home to

I returned to Denver yesterday and waited DIA an extra two hours while Guy returned from a business trip. It was rather nice, really, just sitting and reading a magazine and drinking a latte and having absolutely nothing to do. I agree with my sister's comments to yesterday's post, which is that we need moe time together when I do the lecture next year. I might see if I can come out again this year other than a holiday, but I'm not sure when. It's great to hang out in Small Town and just enjoy Kitty's company, drinking coffee and flipping through remodeling magazines and farting on each other. Though dear Gawd did she drop some bombs on me without even giving me a courtesy "incoming!" or anything of the sort. I had my mouth open and everything.

So, Guy calls and says he's off the plane and will meet me at the terminal where the bridge to Concourse A connects, and I go to meet him. He strides down the wide walkway, and I realize...he's shaved his goatee.

Here's the thing: Guy looks good with a goatee. It looks so good that my family and I call it the Guytee. It's mostly brownish with a little bit of gray and red sprinkled in. He looks like George Clooney's stunt double. I convinced him to grow the Guytee around Christmas, and he threatened to shave it right after. However, upon showing up at work with said Guytee, every woman in the office gushed how gooooood it looked on him. So he's had it for nearly six months.

Until I'm gone for a long weekend, then the SOB shaves it off. I greeted him in the airport with "Smoochybear! I missed you! You shaved off your Guytee, you bastard!" He started laughing.

"I'll grow it back this weekend when we go camping!" he replied, but I held up my hand.

"Too late!" I shot back in mock insult. "The damage is done! I'm too wounded! Carry me to the car!"

Guy shrugged with a sly smile. "I'll drag you, how's that?"

What a romantic.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Righteous, y'all.

It's a nice, quiet morning here in Small Town, and I can't help but enjoy the coolness of the air, the quiet, almost subliminal brrkbrrkbrrkbrrk of Myrtle Mae outside, the thumping of kittehs around the HKC, Davy's asthmatic/fat kitty wheezing, the taste of good Newman's Own coffee, and the feeling of having rocked the chirrens in Linda Lou's class.

Not only did I manage to get the lecture to run 75 minutes and still ahve time to grade/discuss the slides of the different buildings (an exercise I will repeat on this blog in the extreme near future), I got good questions and even several laughs out of the classes. The morning class seemed more on it than the afternoon class (which isn't always the case), but they were good nonetheless, and only one person fell asleep in each class of 20+ students. Consider them rokked.

I also can't imagine how Miss Kitty and Linda Lou do this every day. I mean, the preparation is one thing entirely. Holy fucking shit, that's a lot of work. But then the sore throat--ecccckkkhhh! My throat is seriously sore and scratchy from talking 2 x 90 minutes. It hurt yesterday afternoon to the point that my ears hurt like I had some kind of sinus/respiratory infection. Sadly, Dumbass here did not get any of the tea that Wandering Author suggested, so here I am, rocked me like a hurricane, scratchy throat and all. Fortunately, Kitty had some errands to run and appointments to keep, so she dropped me off at a nearby mall for about an hour. I took the opportunity to get a large iced latte and a magazine and be quiet and read while resting my feet, which looked extremely cute in my cute shoes but were killing me after standing in them for 3 hours, not including all the other time I spent standing and walking in them. But I looked fantastic, if I do say so myself.

This morning will be a quiet morning, and in a few hours Kitty will have to take me to the airport, whereupon she'll probably go home and take a nap; we haven't been getting much sleep, what with all the sisterness up in heauh, up in heauh. Hell, we didn't get to bed until 2am last night. So, we'll hang out, enjoy some coffee and oatmeal and kittehs and each other, then go back to our boring, pedestrain lives.

And plan for our next visit. [evil finger tenting]

Sunday, May 18, 2008

This is propuh.

I arrived in Georgia yesterday about midday, and I must say it was wonderful to be back, if only for a few days. The humidity was a welcome change (never thought I'd hear myself say that), as was the near-80 degree temps we had (also never thought I'd be happy about heat, but it's been a weird, kinda-snowy spring in Denver). We made a stop at Chick-Fil-A on the way home to get me a small lunch and a huge sweet tea--NOM. We arrived at the Happy Kitten Cottage to see our indefatigable Mom wandering around and tidying up as she went. After hugs hello, Mom and I set about our favorite hobby, which is cleaning Kitty's kitchen.

Kitty's been extraordinarily busy this semester, and in the past week she's been attempting to clean the house in time for my arrival. However, she ran out of gas when she got to the kitchen. Mom and I, the super-organize/clean freaks, amused ourselves by wiping down counters and putting things away and filling the dishwasher. It's a hard-knock life.

We spent the evening at our favorite BBQ joint in town, then off the to grocery store to goof around. (I think Kitty's going to do a post about the grocery store tomfoolery that ensued.) Then it was time for paraffin pedicures (so posh, my peoples) and bed.

Today will be more food and fun--lunch with Mom and El Seebeno out at the Happy Kitten Farm, then dinner with Linda Lou, Kitty's colleague for whom I'm guest lecturing on Monday. Then home for yet more tomfoolery and snuggling with all these wonderful and rurnt kittehs at the HKC.

This is the most relaxed I've been in months, y'all. Lawd, it's nice to be home.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wrapping up and cranking up

It's been a long-ass, busy-ass week. Helping Dame Judith with a couple of things, a couple of deadlines, and hosting the high school interns' final presentation and lunch. They had great projects, the two of them, and it's so interesting to see what they come up with when you say, "Here's a site, here are a few parameters, go for it!" Also, because the two of them have different interests (one wasnt to be an architect, the other wants to be an interior designer), their projects end up showcasing their strengths by emphasizing materials over exterior or experience on the site versus interior materials. Really, really cool. And yesterday, I attended a sponsorship appreciation reception, at which the keynote speaker kept talking about how wonderful it was that we all donate and take our time to mentor these young students. I sank a little lower in my seat as I remembered how overly-busy I was for most of the semester and felt a certain amount of guilt. I couldn't help but feel proud, though, as both of my/DA's interns received awards for exceptional experience/leadership/awesomeness. I got good kids, and I just wish I hadn't been so fucking busy so I could've given them the learning experience that they really deserved. Their parents were at their presentation today, though, and they kept telling me how excited the girls had been all semester, how they never had problems getting out of bed because they were coming here, how every conversation started with "Omigod, i did the coolest thing at DA today!", how often they heard great things about the people at DA taking time to show them stuff about their presentations and work. So, perhaps the time wasn't wasted after all. I can only hope.

Meanwhile, I leave early on Saturday morning to go to Georgia for four days of teaching and goofing around with my sister. I know it'll be fun, but I'm freaking a little about my lecture. I keep practicing it, and it's still running 90 minutes. I've GOT to trim it down. However, it also occurred to me that I'm practicing it at night when I'm exhausted after running four miles and working a full day. Seeing as how work is getting light here lately, I think I might start feeling sick around 11am and maybe leave around noon. That'll give me a chance to go home and practice my lecture when I've got some energy. And pack.

Oooh! I can wear my Kenneth Cole wrap dress and my tiger print-magenta pumps! Boo-yah!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Shorty wanna be a prof

I realized this afternoon that I have eight days to get ready for my second lecture for my sister's colleague's class in Georgia. I've been working on my lecture on how architecture and culture have influenced each other over the past 250 years in the U.S., but I'm still kinda-sorta behind. My PowerPoint slide presentation needs some more and difference images on it, and I still need to thin out my presentation. I've gotten it down to 1 hr 26 minutes with only a little class participation, and I've got to thin it more. One, I don't want to bore/lose my audience; and two, my throat gets hoarse every time I practice the lecture. On the one hand, if I just read the notes that I have, which are in outline form, I might be able to shave off some time, but then the presentation wouldn't be near as interesting. At this point, I think it's time to email the outline to Linda Lou and have her give me some suggestions.

But Lawd, how? How do I thin out nine pages of what I think is super-duper culturally and architecturally important? Do I chuck the parts about Phillip Johnson and Louis Kahn? Do I throw out the parts about Catherine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe's The American Woman's Home, which started the concept of domestic science and home economics? Do I ditch the bits on Neoclassical Colonial architecture, thereby losing the stuff on Thomas Jefferson's Monticello? Argh! I feel like I've thinned it down, but it's still too long. I keep trying to think about what should the kids know, but that's where I start wrestling with teaching them names and pictures versus concepts. Again, argh.

So, the final countdown begins. I left work a couple of hours early and thinned it to the nine pages I have now. I'll give it some heavy work this weekend. Perhaps I just need time to make it clean, comprehensible, and comprehendable.