Friday, June 26, 2009

I can't believe

that Michael Jackson is dead. It's so weird.

My first album ever was Bad. I got it when I was six years old.

My brother and I used to put on dance shows for our parents to Dangerous and Thriller.

I started a club in fifth grade to save the endangered species and used "Heal the World" as my theme song.

Some Saturdays, for the last couple of years, I've gone to 80's night at the local club and made sure to be on the dance floor for "Billy Jean."


Monday, June 22, 2009


I spent this past weekend doing things I don't like doing - packing, throwing away stuff, running all over the place trying to get rid of things that I don't want to lug to the new apartment.

But I did some pleasant stuff, too. On Saturday, my friend Danielle and I went hunting for clay in the Winooski River. Danielle is a potter and she's been dying to find some local clay to work with. We drove to a couple of spots and waded around a bit, but we didn't really find anything, so next Saturday we're maybe going to rent a canoe and paddle around so that we can get to the hard-to-reach-by-land spots.

After searching for clay, we spent some time picking strawberries on the most beautiful little plot of land I've ever seen. There were arches made of tree limbs and rows of berry bushes. All of the cedar waxwings that hang out by my apartment in early spring? They live on the berry farm in the summer! It was 70 degrees out and overcast and the berries smelled so sweet and were so delicious!

Yesterday, J and I scouted out a new run - a 5K jaunt starting at our new apartment and circling the university. In the middle of our run, it started pouring rain - it was insanely refreshing!

This weekend, J and I are going to NYC to see Lucy and Ida! We're going to meet up with Brian for some lunch in Times Square. I'm so excited!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Apartment

I've lived in my current apartment for two years now, which is longer than I've ever lived at any place other than my childhood home. It's a nice place; it burned down a few years ago so by the time I moved in, it had been completely rebuilt. It's modern and clean (sort of - nothing is ever really clean with two cats). There are a couple of problems with it, though.

First, the apartment is on a very busy street next to a rotary. People in Vermont don't know how to use rotaries and this rotary is pretty unusual, hence the large number of accidents that happen right in front of our place. People honk early in the morning and late at night. In the summer, we can't sleep with our windows open because the traffic noise wakes us up and drowns out the sound of the television.

Our landlord has been pretty decent, but he's in no hurry to get things fixed when the break or to plow when a foot of snow has fallen. Our lawn (a tiny tiny patch of grass) was just mowed for the first time this spring and the landscaping has been neglected for years.

Our apartment is a 25- to 30-minute walk from the university. This wouldn't be a big deal, but J and I don't have a car and the only bus that went directly to the university from near our house is being cancelled this month, so we don't have any quick way to get to and from in the winter. I don't mind long walks - I do them often - but when biology lab gets out at 9:00 pm on a Monday night it's just nice to not have to trudge two miles in the snow and ice to get home.

Anyway, we've been on the hunt for a new place and yesterday, we put a security deposit down on an apartment! It's a 10-15-minute walk from the apartment to my office and a stone's throw from the apartment to the university gym. It's also got a much more open floor plan than the apartment we're in now:

Old Apartment:

New Apartment:

The apartment we're in now is 1/3 hallway, and while the rooms are pretty private, it feels a bit cramped.

I have to admit that part of me is wondering if the new place is going to turn out to be a good thing. It's really charming, but it's not as modern as the place we're in now. The bedrooms are a bit smaller (I think - it's hard to tell), as are the kitchen and bathroom. The living room, though, is quite a bit larger. There's no porch, but there is a decent little strip of lawn to hang out on. There's also a storage unit in the basement.

If it's as quiet as I'm hoping, I think the location of the new apartment will make the move totally worth it. I'm excited about being able to keep my windows open at night, waking up the the sound of birds, and falling asleep to the sound of crickets.

The only thing that makes me sad to leave our current building is that I have a lot of memories tied to it - my first year with J, little memories of Echo sleeping on the couch and racing through the hallway.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I have a really beautiful friend named Christy. She's a mom, an aikidoka, an artist and an all-around awesome gal. She's opening a studio/collective here in town and I have an opportunity to rent some studio space from her! I don't know if I can afford to do it, but if I can, it would mean that I could have my very own photo studio, which would be very nice, if I ever want to try my hand at professional portraiture.

This past weekend, I got to spend some time with Christy and her boyfriend, Alex, at the studio. It's in the first stages right now - it's just a big room with some heavy equipment. It needs to be cleaned and organized and some walls need to be built, but it's a cool space.

I don't know if I'll do it - I barely have time during the school year to even watch a movie - but the idea is really exciting.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


In my building, there's a "Medical Photography" office. I think one person works in it. He takes photos - of medical stuff. And the school buys him his equipment, so he's got two Nikon D3s with $6,000 lenses mounted on them. He carries both around at the same time, one over each shoulder. I bump into him occasionally and I'm always a bit star struck for some reason, even though he's by no means famous.

I've wanted to do photography for a long time. I got into it, originally, in high school, when my parents gave me their old Canon AE-1 Program and some lenses for my birthday. Alas, I didn't know how to use the camera, nor did I seem to have the mind for learning at the time, so it sat, in my closet, until my first year of college.

I took a black and white photography class in 2002. We used film only, so I learned how to develop and manipulate film film photos. I didn't produce any great work during that time, but I did learn all of those technical things that my high school brain couldn't handle when I first got the AE-1. Unfortunately, once the class ended, so did my shooting. I got a couple of digital point and shoots and all of the sudden, film seemed like too much work - too pricey. (I've changed my mind about film. I think it's fantastic and I plan on getting myself a nice film camera once I've leanred the ins and outs of photography)

Anyway, I've realized lately that I spend a lot of time wanting to do things and very little time actually doing things. I'm sure, on my death bed, I'll have a lot of regrets - so I'd like to start doing those things that I've always wanted to do, not matter how scary they are. And while photography in itself isn't scary, the idea that I might invest some money in it and turn out to be a terrible photographer is.

So I bought myself a nice digital SLR camera and I've invested in some fantastic lenses. I got the Nikon D70. It's a great little tool and it has the capacity, coupled with nice lenses and good technique, to take beautiful pictures. Plus, it was cheaper than the more recent $1,000 bodies.

So far, I'm working with the following:

  • Nikon d70, Digital SLR
  • AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D lens
  • AF Nikkor 20-35mm f/2.8D zoom lens
  • Tamron SP AF28-300/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Macro lens
I'd like to pick up an external flash and a better tripod and eventually, I'd like to get a faster telephoto lens, though they run in the thousands of dollars, so that may never actually happen.

I'm having a lot of fun experimenting. Eventually, once I get a bit more familiar with the camera and the pictures I produce, I might even develop some kind of unique style. Right now, most of what I've done has been an imitation of several other people's style, though it's definitely helping me learn how to use the camera and the editing software (Nikon Capture).

I think I might be an okay photographer, if I stick with it.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hole in the Wall

I grew up in Ashford -a tiny little town in Connecticut. It's a beautiful place with only a couple thousand residents. The house I spent most of my life in had a little stream in the back yard. There are two gas stations and one Dunkin Donuts. Otherwise, the town is just a school, some local restaurants, a dairy bar and lots and lots of woods.

And there's the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, founded by Paul Newman. You may have seen him in a movie or two, or bought his delicious dressings.

The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp does fantastic work. It "provides children with cancer and other serious illnesses and conditions a camping experience of the highest quality, while extending year-round support to their families and health care providers."

When you grow up in a small town like Ashford, you get to know people pretty well. My brother had a friend, Ray. Ray was a kid that we all knew would grow up to be a decent man. He was a sweet kid - really polite and kind. I got to do some Civil War reenacting with Ray when he and his father joined the local (and tiny, but awesome) civial war reenacting regiment. By the powers of Facebook, I've gotten to reconnect a bit with Ray. And, as we expected, Ray is doing great things - and working with Team Hole in the Wall to raise money for the Hole in the Wall Camps.

On August 16th, Ray will be running in the NYC Half-Marathon. He's committed to raising $1,500. Help Ray reach his goal by donating some money. Even if it's just $5, it'll help!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Guess which one of my boyfriends got into UVM?

If you guessed this one:

then you are correct.

Congrats to J! He's now a double major in biology and philosophy. And extra congrats to him for making Presidents List this past semester!

I'm so lucky to have such a smart, hardworking and handsome partner in crime.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Fairbanks Museum

This weekend, J and I drove up to St. Johnsbury - a quaint little town in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. St. Jay, as the locals say, has a beautiful historic district with old brick buildings and a lovely little museum. We've been wanting to go to the Fairbanks Museum for quite some time, but since neither of us have a car it was only this past weekend, when J's sister was out of town and we had her car, that we could get there.

The Fairbanks Museum opened in 1891, though before that, Franklin Fairbanks invited folks to view his "cabinet of curiosities" in home where, on the third floor, he had a collection of natural objects.
I was pretty impressed by the museum. It had one of the most extensive collections of birds (dead ones) that I've seen, though many of them are so old that the colors are starting to fade from their feathers. almost the whole first floor of the museum, which was one gigantic room, was devoted to birds. There were also some stuffed bears, a moose, a tiger and some small mammals.

The second floor of the museum had a mishmash of items and themes. There were minerals, dolls, historical artifacts from around the world and a little display of the history of life through time. The mineral collection was impressive, not in size, but in specimen quality. The dinosaur display emphasized the historical aspects of paleontology but was lacking in anything modern. Besides casts of T. rex and Styracosaurus albertiensis, the only visuals were replicas of Mantell's statues and illustrations of lumbering sauropods with their tails dragging on the ground. Though the display information acknowledged recent advances in paleontology, any child running through the museum probably wouldn't pick that up.

Regardless, the museum was defininely fun to visit and I would recommend it to anyone as a stop on a day trip.