Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Back from the West

Many days have passed since my last private post--weeks even. The activity that consumed my life for the first of those weeks is chronicled here and here. Now for the activity of the last week...

My spouse and I joined friends in Los Angeles and wandered up to the Paso Robles area following the trail of Sideways. As was required, we drank a lot. We arrived on Thursday and spent the afternoon sampling wines brought from the Kentucky contingent's vineyard and eating big slabs of grilled red meat. Yum.

The next day we hit five wineries, and the following day six. Even though we live in The South where God forbid you should get wine in the mail, I went ahead and joined five wineries' wine clubs and got on the waiting list for a sixth. All the wine has to be shipped to my in-laws who live in a sensible state (Illinois) and I will have to pick it up twice a year when I am up there visiting and for shows.

Our last tourist hurrah was Hearst Castle, one of the estate homes of William Randolph Hearst. It was most impressive to me for the fact that everything, all the engineering and architectural design--even down to purchasing the Icelandic moss to feed the property's reindeer, was done by a woman, Julia Morgan (1872-1957). I was so awed by her work that I am tempted to purchase her biography on Amazon... and I am not usually a biography woman!

I leave you with a few labels (and one photo for the winery with no label on the web) mapping out our debauchery.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

And the winner is...

There has been a flurry of geek/nerd/dorkness on the blogs in the past few days. But I always knew I had the trump card. Yeah, yeah, my own results are nothing too special. But I married someone I knew would blow the lid off the test. The trick was getting him to take it. I couldn't ask him. As you will see from his profile, asking him would be tantamount to forbidding a normal person. Nope, I had to be sneaky and not. say. anything. (Do you have any idea how hard that was for me?) In case you might think the results were intentional or skewed, let me preface this by saying that my spouse is the only one to ever get a Dungeons and Dragons scholarship *from TSR* to college...

And Dave's results are:

Outcast Genius
65 % Nerd, 65% Geek, 56% Dork
For The Record:
A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in all three, earning you the title of: Outcast Genius.

Outcast geniuses usually are bright enough to understand what society wants of them, and they just don't care! They are highly intelligent and passionate about the things they know are *truly* important in the world. Typically, this does not include sports, cars or make-up, but it can on occassion (and if it does then they know more than all of their friends combined in that subject).

Outcast geniuses can be very lonely, due to their being outcast from most normal groups and too smart for the room among many other types of dorks and geeks, but they can also be the types to eventually rule the world, ala Bill Gates, the prototypical Outcast Genius.


My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 62% on nerdiness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 91% on geekosity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 92% on dork points
Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I am a Nerd

There has been much debate over at Ren's as to one's geekiness, nerdiness, dorkiness. So I had to see what I am. I am a Modern, Cool Nerd. Thank you to the fine folk at okcupid for the test. In case you are curious, here are my results:

And here is the link to the test for the other gnorks out there who want to try.

Modern, Cool Nerd
60 % Nerd, 60% Geek, 21% Dork
For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.

A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.

A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning you the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd.

Nerds didn't use to be cool, but in the 90's that all changed. It used
to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or a
pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world
that you couldn't quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and
geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very
least, and "geek is chic." The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent,
knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis (needing
computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one
you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one
up there, winning the million bucks)!


My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 51% on nerdiness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 89% on geekosity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 28% on dork points
Link: written by donathos on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Love, Actually

I just read a post by friend Bridget on love and marriage and was going to write this as a comment on it, but it is too much and deserves its own space. I am reading The Mermaid's Tale by Sue Monk Kidd right now and am just sick to death of it. But I can't stop reading a book because I despise the characters--the writing has to be bad and hers isn't. So I will slog through and hope the wife redeems herself. (Sorry Mary K).

This morning Dave informed me that on February 22 we will have known each other for 4000 days. I don't know what prompted him to think of this--other than that he is a mathematician at heart--but my first thought was that it is four times longer than Anne Boleyn was together with Henry VIII. Mad, passionate, impetuous affairs do not seem to last (beware, Tom and Katie).

But once in awhile two people get lucky and meld. I find myself becoming stiff and taciturn as I write this, which is not my style at all. Am I uncomfortable saying that I have a perfect love because I am embarrassed at being thought to brag? Or am I superstitiously afraid that I am tempting the gods and they will take it away? Whatever it is, I am not going to be able to be write how I feel about Dave and our life together with any kind of fluidity, articulateness or eloquence. All I can say is I love him with all my heart. After 10 years of marriage I can't wait for the next 10 and the next and the next and the next. Every day brings something I can't wait to share with him when he gets home. I wake up at night and am flooded with happiness just listening to him breathe as he sleeps next to me (that's before the anxiety attack takes me). We go out to dinner and talk over candlelight just like we did when we met--the same thrusts of witty repartee and quirky banter, the same spontaneous I-can't-believe-you-just-said-that laughter.

Every now and then I go back and read the email he wrote to me when we were first together. The one below will always be my favorite (and I hope he doesn't mind that I share it):

Date: Fri, 19 May 1995 12:08:13 -0700
From: Dave Griffith
To: tunnock@nwu.edu
Subject: Adventure

Tomorrow, I go to sign a lease on a delightful but practical three bedroom apartment. It's urban, but in a neighborhood without a noticeable oversupply of coffeehouses, sex shops, bars, or transvestites. Three bedrooms are necessary, doncha know, because two people need space to live comfortably and cope with the inevitable increase in stuff that they require. It's called "settling down", and means that you have to give up bachelor ways. On my desk, as tangible evidence of all of this, are two pictures of the love of my life, just like all the old marrieds have. I've been with her more or less constantly for the last month, and neither of us seem to tire of it.

By rights, I should be scared witless of all of this, should be fleeing back into my silent life of bookstores and solitary travel and movies and sarcasm and traders and falling asleep reading the Economist. Yet my heart soars every time I look across the strewn stacks of papers, books, and CDs and see a woman in a hammock, wrapped in a blue scarf and with a hibiscus behind her ear. I see her smile, and I am ready to spend my life with her.

Will you be as attracted to Dave the Adult as you were to Dave the Mad Rogue? I pray so. I don't doubt I'll still be strange and a bit wild. You're not going to see me driving a mini-van or watching Monday Night Football anytime soon. But will I be a bit less willing to take risks at work, knowing that it matters to someone other than me whether I have a job the next day? Will I be a bit shyer about walking the bad streets? Will I be a bit more cautious about sloughing bureaucratic responsibilities that I know I can fast-talk my way out of? Perhaps.

And then I look across the desk, and know that I'm not giving up an adventurous lifestyle. I see the smile and the hibiscus, and know that my greatest adventure is just beginning.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

So I am Insane After All...

I had to drive to the northwest part of Atlanta today to pick up the large-format pictures I had done for my show in Philadelphia next week. I got a message from them as I was almost there that my order was not done yet, they would need another 45 minutes to an hour. I was only five minutes away, but the woman I spoke to told me there was a Home Depot five minutes away and I can always kill some time at a Home Depot. Besides, I still have to construct a stand for a hanging piece that I want to display at the show. So I am on my way to the Despot (as we fondly call HD in our household) and I glance to my left and there is a boulder store! Well, it is not really just a boulder store, they have all kinds of landscaping material--most of it stone. And they are having a sale... I had to stop.

Last Saturday I took the day off from glass and motherhood and wifeliness and everything else to be a gardener for the day. I attended an all-day perennial plant symposium at the Atlanta Botanical Garden at which there were many fine speakers discussing the topic of southern gardening. Not being a native (or even a willing) southerner, I need all the help I can get. It was a revelation to listen to fifth and seventh generation southern gardeners talk about the plants and the soil we have here. I left with a crinum bulb clutched in my left hand, two autographed hard cover books on perennials and native plants in my right, and fervor in my heart to Get Out In The Garden. I didn't post any of this till now because anyone who keeps up with this blog and Glass Incarnate knows that I am smack in the midst of getting ready for a big wholesale show and negotiating a book contract. It isn't as if I don't already have enough to do! But I can hold it back no longer.

So I stood there at the boulder store this morning looking at the big garden boulders and the pallets of river rock with lust in my heart (and I can just hear my father say to my mother as he reads this, "She is going to pay money for rocks?!?" He is Scottish and lives in Montana, need I say more?). I almost bought three of the big moss-covered beauties right there, but a boulder, like a pond, must be planned. Like how I slipped that "P" word in there oh so casually? Yep. I am planning my next pond and as God is my witness, it is going in this spring.

Last Sunday we took a family day and went to the Chattahoochee Nature Center for a winter walk in the woods. As we were leaving, I noticed for the first time the pond they have at the head of the parking lot. It is above and below ground, and the above part is river cobbles and small boulders cemented together with a flat stone seating ledge at the top. It clicked as exactly the sort of design I have been searching for for our backyard.

I have held off till now on the whole pond in Atlanta thing because I have just not been reconciled enough to living here that I felt like putting the energy into designing another one. Although if I really want to move, putting in a pond is the way to guarantee it. As anyone in the family will tell you, putting in a pond is the kiss of death for me on a house. Every single blessed time I put in a pond we move within a year. There was the first gorgeous pond in Aurora Illinois that we dug ourselves (with a little help from the day labor) and lovingly placed every river rock and cobble in the bottom. Dave wheelbarrowed the tons (literally) of rock from the front of the house where the dump truck had left them to the back, and I picked up and placed every single rock by hand. That pond was 17 feet long, 6 feet wide and 3-1/2 feet deep. It was a beauty with a skimmer box at one end and a waterfall at the other. Fish and frogs frolicked in the plants.

Then there was the square, formal, above-ground pond that I had put in in the middle of the back stone patio in Austin. It, too, had loads of frogs, fish and plants as we waved it bye-bye.

When we moved here three years ago the backyard was a sea of red clay mud with straw in it. The builder had supposedly planted grass, but it never came up. So I designed the backyard from the ground up the summer before last, and I left a space for a good-sized pond. I planned to put it in last summer, but between shows and life, I just didn't have the time. I left it and really didn't dream that this would be the year it would happen. But it will. I can feel it. The design is finally ready in my head, the boulder store has all the rocks I will need, and the income tax refund is coming.

And while I am at it, I am going to get a couple of granite boulders for the front and back yards. The boulder store will deliver and place them (no, a little to the left, no, no, back to the right... no, I think we should turn it and put it over there by the bench...) for a nominal fee, and I think you just cannot have too many boulders in a garden.

Monday, February 06, 2006

I Know I am Still Sane

A friend asked in a comment on Friday's Glass Incarnate post how many of the Starbuck's Skyline series mugs I have and couldn't I augment my collection by shopping on eBay. The picture at right is not my collection. This collection came up for sale on eBay this morning with a "Buy It Now" price of $1,050.00 and a minimum bid of $999.00. I know this not because I search eBay compulsively every morning because I get an automatically-generated email whenever one I really want (Austin, Atlanta, Denver, Las Vegas) comes up for sale. This morning I got a bunch of email as this collection is up for sale in toto or piece-meal.

So how do I know that I am still sane? Because I do not want this collection of mugs. Would I want it if it were a factor of 10 less? ($105--I checked with my spouse to be sure. It sounded good, but I am a bit math-challenged) Maybe, but only MAYBE. Where would I put them all? There would be no room for any of the smaller mugs I still have (I did do a major mug weed-out when I started getting the Skylines because they just take up so much darn room in the cupboard).

But more importantly there would be nothing left to hunt--no more thrill when a new one comes up on eBay or we go on vacation to a city in the series. These mugs--though only produced through 2002 are still around in some Starbucks. I bought my first one in the Starbucks at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago last December and (as far as I know) they still have them. That's actually what makes it exciting: they are very hard to find, but not impossible. I have my Aunt Sheila hunting one now in Denver.

And that's the other good thing about the hunt: You can share it with your family and friends and if they happen to find one you have really been wanting, they KNOW it is going to be the best birthday/Mother's Day/Christmas gift ever! So I might bid on a few of these mugs (well that's guaranteed) but I am not even tempted by the entire set. Besides, I think Dave would notice if the income tax refund disappeared and the cupboard was suddenly overflowing with Barista!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Just a Little Photo...

A few days ago I posted about the champagne-in-a-can some friends gave us. We tried it out with Thai food and I couldn't resist posting these pics of Dave pouring. Can you say Rasputin?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Our Lives in Little Boxes

A few days ago I posted a picture of me with some friends on top of Siyeh Pass. A few days (and a lot of sweat later), after another friend from way back when asked me about the photo, I dug through the boxes of photos and found the rest of the roll. I decided to do a whole post on that day so I scanned all the pictures into the computer, cropped them, cleaned them up (somewhat), and then uploaded them here. It was a non-trivial effort, and the formatting was worse than I had hoped, but it was still worth it. I feel like I have completed an entire scrapbook. Next, I'll tackle the wedding pictures, my vacation with Dave pictures, the old pictures of my grandparents, and Jessie's baby pictures... Yeah, right! The picture at right is from our recent trip to the aquarium Those were the actual colors--there is no special effect on it. Other pictures from the visit--some Jessie's some mine--are scattered through this post.

I have almost 30 years worth of photos in boxes squirreled away in various closets throughout the house. There are the pics from the three-month trip backpacking around Europe when I was 21. I took rolls and rolls of film and they never even made it into an album. They languish (neatly labeled) in a box. No, wait. I took slides of that trip! Then there is the three-month trip to the then Eastern Bloc and Soviet Union. That one (I think) I have on film. Belize, Austria, Guatemala, France, Mexico visited with various previous amours sit patiently ignored in dust-covered boxes--along with metro stubs, maps, restaurant menus and all the other tourist detritus I picked up while traveling and Had to Keep.

What am I going to do with all of it? Do I make album after album as one of my friends does? I admire her: she has two children and has a complete separate album for each of them for each year of their lives. And she doesn't just put in the photos--she journals for them too! Her wedding album and the years of her married life pre-kids are also all there, neatly arranged and beautifully presented for anyone who wishes to see them.

Do I scan it all in to join the pictures of the last seven years (all digital) and make on-line or cd albums for me and my loved ones? It wouldn't take much. Just put a box of photos in the office next to the scanner and put the computer in there too (instead of on the kitchen table where I usually work) and as I do anything on it, I scan in a picture or two or five. Just like I did when I needed to get some of my cd's on the iPod. Yes, and like the Chief in Battlestar I could design and build a stealth ship in my spare time.

The most seductively subversively attractive idea of all is to just leave them where they are for a time when I have more time and do them All At Once. (Or con my Mom into doing them while she is here visiting). Heh.

When we were first together, Dave hated it when I would take time to take pictures. His exasperated incantation "Live, don't commemorate!" echoed through vacations and social events. I think he is better adjusted now--or else he just hides his exasperation better. Marriage is a compromise--and parenthood is more so. When we went to the new Georgia Aquarium the other day I took the digital camera. I took a few pictures, but then lost the camera to Jessie who used up the battery completely. She was a mad woman. At one point I heard myself saying to her "Live, don't commemorate!" which earned me quite the droll look from Dave. Maybe I can teach her how to use the scanner...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

That Day on Siyeh Pass ... Finally!!

June 23, 1990. Left Missoula early in the morning and headed for Glacier Park some 150 miles to the north. Entered from West Glacier on the Going-To-The-Sun Highway. The high point of the road (literally) is Logan's Pass with an elevation of 6646 feet above sea level. Flatlanders beware. As already noted it was June 23--officially summer in the northern hemisphere.

Yet here we stand in the parking lot on Logan's Pass with the carved out snow behind us. I am in the middle and the tallest of the group at 6'. That's the winter's snowfall behind us. The intrepid adventurers left to right Sully, Mike, me, Christine and Van.

The hike we took was from Siyeh Bend over Siyeh Pass ending at Sunrift Gorge. It is a 10 mile hike with an elevation gain of 2,200 feet (plus or minus 680 feet--the elevations I was able to find on the web varied. The first few shots are from low on the trail when we were still getting warmed up. Don't let the snow fool you: we were in shorts because it was a warm summer day (well, warm by Montana standards. My blood has thinned a bit by the south and if I were in the photo today I would be in thermals and woolies... and wheezing) and we got downright hot as we hiked. It was not a difficult hike as they go, but it got the blood flowing!

As we came up to the pass the snow covered much of the trail and the loose shale was challenging to get around. When we finally got to the top, we took a well-deserved break for lunch on the pass. Then we started suiting up for the rest of the "hike".

As mentioned earlier it is a 10 mile hike. We, however, did not walk 10 miles. Much of the hike (the downward part) went very fast indeed. Garbage bags make great, light-weight, impromptu sleds. Whether you put them over jeans (go Sully!) or shorts, you are sure to make a "fashion statement".

We were seriously high in the mountains. Siyeh Pass at 8,240 ft. is the highest pass in Glacier Park which has a maintained trail going over it. In the pictures which look like snow with smudges in it there are either little itty bitty people waiting below or little itty bitty people coming down from above. Look closely. The descent is managed with built-in brakes called feet (and some of us got serious snow burns from them!). Van got the most style points coming down.

But all good things must end. We walked out towards Sunrift gorge. (And someone's sunglass strap ruined what would have been a perfect photo). Don't you wish you had grown up in Montana too so you could have had this kind of weekend fun?