Friday, December 31, 2010

My Wish...

And so, we come to the end of another year and we begin another. This has been a good year for me as I have worked and played hard. I met several of my 2010 intentions, but not all of them. That's okay. I fully believe it's our failures that make us persist with our goals and intentions, always striving to reach the brass ring. This year I think I will keep my intentions simple...

1. Graduate!
2. Get a job!!
3. Become physically fit!
4. Become fiscally fit!!
5. Read 30 books (this year I got to 26).

I joined Weight Watchers this past Tuesday and won't have my first weigh-in until this coming Tuesday. The leader was so funny and said I should maybe wait until next week when it was free registration. I told her I'd put on 5 pounds in that week and wanted to join today because I didn't want to have to lose those in addition to what I already have to lose. She laughed and said she totally understood.

I hope each of you reading this blog has a prosperous 2011 filled with more moments that bring you joy than sadness.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

New Christmas Picture

Loving my new picture for this year. The photographer changed the lighting just enough to tone down the white background and bring out the color of my eyes. I am very pleased with this! However, I am shocked at the number of wrinkles I have and what's with the bags under my eyes??

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bad, Bad Life!

I'm sorry. So sorry. I am a bad, bad blogger. Life has just gotten in the way. Bad life! All the cleaning, cooking, working, and playing has just taken me away from my time here. Oh, and let's not forget the traveling! (Really, I'm teasing...I have loved every moment of the past few months.)

At the end of October I was really busy. I took off two weeks from school and did a bit of traveling. First I went to Disney World with my boys and the rest of my family. It was the only time that all of us would be able to get together this year so we went for it. The picture above is one of the few of the boys and I together. Not sure how that happened. Hmpf. Anyway, here we are in front of Epcot. Love this picture! I love it when they look like they're protecting their Mom!

After returning a day early from that trip (grumble...grumble) I headed back out the next morning for Denver. I was attending the Geological Society of America meeting there for five days. Fun but tiring...and I'd rather have spent the extra day with my boys.

While at GSA I interviewed with one college for a possible faculty position. I really liked the interviewer and I just get this feeling that I'd like the college as well. It's exactly what I'm looking for, or at least that's my impression. Keep your fingers crossed. I really want a job.

November passed quickly. It was like a blink of an eye. But, I did manage to submit a paper to the journal Palaios. Hopefully it will come back from the reviewers without too many necessary revisions.

As I enter December I am looking forward to having a month off to just write, write, write. I have set a goal for myself to have at least one draft of my second paper (and the second chapter of my dissertation) to my advisor by Christmas. (For those that don't know the in's and out's of a geology PhD dissertation, you have to write three papers that are to be submitted to journals. At least one must be published before graduation to fulfill the requirements.) Anyway, all 3 must be written and ready to go by April. I must defend my dissertation no later than April 8th. Not a lot of time but I can do it!

This post is long enough now. More later.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Abbey Road!

Here I am at the famous zebra-striped crosswalk where the Beatles crossed for the cover of Abbey Road. The crowd you see behind me stands in front of the Abbey Road Studios where the Beatles recorded the album. This is a DANGEROUS intersection as there is no stop sign/light to stop the traffic. Several people were almost hit because the traffic was moving along quickly and the pedestrians were being idiots. Anyway, I had to wait for about 10 minutes until it was my turn as many people were trying to get their photos and had no idea there was a que.

And here I am....crossing the road!

These white posts in front of the Abbey Road Studios are covered in graffiti. I took pictures of a lot of it but I liked this post the best.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Where she walked...

This picture is of me standing in front of the gates to Kensington Palace. If you don't know why this place is very special to me...then read on.

If you know me then you know of my love for Princess Diana. When in London I wanted to visit Kensington Palace, her London residence. The picture above is of my feet in the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. The water was ice cold! There was a sign that spoke of the design for the fountain - there were rough spots and smooth spots, much like the life of the Princess. It said that she would love knowing that you had taken off your shoes and put your feet I did.

This is me in front of the gardens of Kensington Palace. Princess Diana used to sun herself in these gardens and she used them often to go outside and let go of whatever issues were coming up in her life. I love knowing that I likely walked on a point of the earth where she's been.

This memorial is in Harrod's. I do not think that Princess Diana was interested in Dodi as more than just a fling. An "engagement ring" is at this memorial in plexiglas. I refuse to believe it. She would have lost custody of her children and she would never have let that happen.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

I love cookies...

I saw these this morning and just had to share. They are absolutely adorable!! These would have been so cute when my kids were in school and I was room mom. Click here for the directions...

Friday, October 08, 2010


I've always teased my sister Roxanne that she's adopted. But after seeing this photo I'm thinking maybe I'm really the adopted one!!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Europe, continued...

One of my favorite things in London was taking the Jack-the-Ripper tour. I found out so many interesting things! The picture above is the Ten Bells Pub. The Ten Bells is a Victorian public House on the East End of London. It is notable for its association with two victims of Jack the Ripper, Annie Chapman and Mary Kelly.

Between 1976 and 1988, the public house was named The Jack the Ripper, and memorabilia relating to the case was displayed in the bars. The brewery ordered the change back to its original name after a long campaign demanded that a murderer of women should not be commemorated in such a fashion.

This is a picture of Phillip Hutchinson. He was our tour-guide and has written several books on the subject. He was fascinating!

This is a building by the Ten Bells Pub. Quite phallic, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Field work in Cincinnati...

I spent a week in Cincinnati doing my summer field work. I thought we were going to die! The temperatures were hovering around 112 degrees in the shade! There were several times I nearly passed out from the heat and dehydration. Thank goodness I'd thought to pack a cooler filled with tons of water and ice. The picture below shows you how hot it can see it in my face.

Here I am, down on the ground doing my thing. The pink dots are the locations of the organisms I study. They are marine organisms related to modern day starfish. I'm trying to figure out how they utilized the substrate. Just an FYI, but approximately 400 million years ago Cincinnati was ocean. The ground that I'm laying on is 400 million year old ocean floor.

Yep, geology is way too cool!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

I am the worst blogger ever!

I have been really busy lately trying to get my manuscript done and submitted to Palaios Journal. It's a requirement for graduation. The PhD Hooding Ceremony is May 12, 2011 and I have to have my dissertation defended by April.

I have also been trying to put out job applications. So far I have four out there. There will be more.

I also took some time to scrapbook my trip to England/France and enter the scrapbooks in the Tennessee Valley Fair. I won three blue ribbons!!

I'll try to keep up with the blog more. I still have some great photos to share from my trip as well as my field work in Cincinnati. Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Westminster Abbey and The Globe!

Our first stop of the day was at Westminster Abbey. This place is absolutely amazing! I have no idea how they have buried so many important people in such a small place but I have heard that many are buried standing upright in their graves. We found some famous graves that we were hoping to see, such as Charles Darwin, Charles Lyell (the father of modern geology), and too many kings and queens to keep track of. We also saw the coronoation throne. It is currently being restored. I fear it is because they are anticipating the passing of Queen Elizabeth and will need to use it for Charles. This is me in front of the main doors.

Later that evening we went to the Globe Theater and watched the Shakespeare play, King Henry VIII. I should say I watched HALF of the play. After spending all day on my feet I could not stand any more during the play (we had purchased the standing entrance and had no place to sit). The first half was great though! Man, I love this picture of me! That's Mike and Megan behind me.

After the play was over we headed back to the hotels. Isn't this a lovely view of St. Paul's Cathedral?

And for those that know me and my love for all things Princess Diana...she was married at St. Paul's Cathedral!
More tomorrow...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day ? - Ode to Harry Potter...

For those that don't know, I am a fan of Harry Potter. I'm not the type of fan that memorizes lines or dresses up like the characters (although I have been known to stand in the lines to get my new book at the midnight release where I also made magic wands out of sticks and glitter). So when I went to London I had to go find Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station because that's where Harry Potter gets on the Hogwart's Express, the steam train that takes the students to Hogwarts. Here I am making my way into Platform 9 3/ luggage is already through the wall!

Below is a picture of where they filmed Diagon Alley. Diagon Alley is where Hagrid first takes Harry to buy all of his required items for school, including his wand, his books, and of course his owl, Hedgwig. We looked for the bar they filmed The Leaky Cauldron in but could not find it. *sigh* Would have loved to have gone for a butter beer.

Finally, trying to get into the Ministry of Magic. You have to enter this phone booth and dial the secret number (spells MAGIC on the keypad) while holding the phone in the air. The Ministry of Magic operator will come on and ask who you are trying to see. I was heading in to see Percy Weasley.

Great fun on this little side jaunt. Will share more tomorrow!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 5 - My Favorite Castle!

Back to one of my most favorite places on Earth. I have visited Bodiam Castle the last three times I've been to England. It is a magnificent Medieval castle in East Sussex that was built during the 14th century. It has four beautiful rounded turrets on each corner, a moat, and drawbridge. Enjoy the pictures...

Love, love, LOVE it here! More tomorrow...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Europe Day 3 & 4

Got busy this week with preparing my manuscript and didn't get a chance to update my blog. Sorry about that!

So day three was a travel day where we made our way from Dover to Farthingstone. My good friend Rhiannon was getting married and I was so excited to be invited. The day we arrived was the day of the hen party and all of the girls (including Mike) got baby blue cowboy hats with tiaras on them along with a sash that said "Rhiannon's Hen Party". It was great fun as we started the event at a local salon where there were manicures, pedicures, and massages. Here's me in my hat!

Rhiannon's parents home is absolutely lovely and they have a magnificent garden in the backyard. I tried to take many pictures of it. It has a multitude of vegetables growing, including tomatoes, potatoes, leeks, garlic, and peas. I realized I'd never seen a potato or garlic growing before.

Day four was the wedding. It was held in this tiny church in the village of Farthingstone (180 people, one church, and one pub). The wedding was absolutely beautiful. The bride and groom both looked magnificent and so very happy. Here's a great picture of us! It's one of my favorite photos from the entire trip.

That's all for today...more tomorrow, including a visit to one of my most favorite places on earth!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Europe Day 2 1/2 and 3: Dinner on the Seine & The Louvre!

I decided to take one of the dinner cruises along the Seine. I had heard they were fabulous and I was not disappointed. For one person I was given a full bottle of champagne, a full bottle of white wine (my choice), appetizers, dinner, dessert and the cruise. I loved the cruise and although expensive would highly recommend it to everyone.

The next morning we headed to the Louvre! I love this picture of me in front of the famous pyramid and fountain.

How could you go to the Louvre and not see the Mona Lisa?? There she is, right behind me in the photo. The Louvre is huge. I think it would take at least 3-4 days to go through and see everything. There really is that much stuff there. I also saw the Venus de Milo...absolutely stunningly beautiful!

More tomorrow!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Europe Day Two: The Chunnel & Paris!

We decided that we'd take the Chunnel to get to France rather than taking a ferry because it was a bit faster. The Chunnel is really an interesting ride. You pull your car into a two-level train (think double decker bus kind of thing) with 4 cars per train car. They then seal you into your train car but you can get out and walk around. The ride takes about 35 minutes and you actually ride below the waters of the English Channel to Calais, France. Here's a look at what it looks like inside your sealed train car.

Once we got to France it took about 4.5 hours to get to Paris because the A1 (the major highway to Paris) was closed in Calais for road work. I thought we'd never get there but we finally did. Mike drove around the Arc de Triomphe and I swore we were all going to die! European drivers are insane!! Here's a view from the top of the Eiffel Tower. The green area in the photo had been set up so that people could watch the World Cup on a huge TV screen. When a goal was scored the crowd erupted in cheers!

And here's a good picture of me in front of the Eiffel Tower. This one is going on my travel wall.

The Eiffel Tower is huge!! It is much larger than I expected. It takes two elevators to get to the top. The first elevator goes at an angle up one of the legs. The second elevator goes straight up the center part of the tower. It was kind of scary going up, in fact, I couldn't look out as we were going up but once we got to the top and out of the elevator I was fine.
More tomorrow...

Friday, July 09, 2010

Europe Day One: The White Cliffs of Dover!!

I returned just the other day from spending 15 glorious days in England and France. All together there were 953 pictures taken. I'm so happy to share a few of them with you here. First off, let me introduce you to the cast of characters that I hung out with. This first picture is overlooking the English Channel. We are staring at the White Cliffs of Dover with the channel in the background. From left to right we have: Will, his new wife Megan, Mike, and me. Will is my office buddy and is studying blastoids. Megan is a planetary type meaning she studies stuff in outer space...I feel stupid right now because I am not sure what her research is on but I'm thinking either Mars or asteroids. Mike is a minerals kind of guy. He is doing wacky experiments with olivine and dolomite. And then there's me...studying my little edrioasteroids and trying to understand their paleoecology.

Here we have Dover Castle. This castle was used as a safeguard against those who would come in from the sea. It is an amazingly beautiful place inside. It was up on the hill behind our B&B. I visited this castle many years ago on one of my first visits to England.

And here's me, standing at the base of the White Cliffs. Now, for those that don't know what the cliffs are made of, think teeny-tiny-itty-bitty fossils. Yes, fossils! These guys that make up the chalk are so small that you have to use one of those special SEM microscopes to see what they look like. The number of these fossils that it took to make the cliffs is just astronomical. I can't even imagine what the number would look like.

The cliffs were truly amazing and I took some samples for my collection. I also happen to love this picture of me. Mike took it and I think he did a great job! It's so good, in fact, that it's one that I printed out to add to my travel wall.
More tomorrow!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Synchronized Fireflies

I've been really busy the past couple of weeks getting ready for my trip. I took a break last night and headed to the Smoky Mountains, Elkmont Campground specifically, to watch the synchronized fireflies. Approximately two weeks per year, in June, this phenomenon occurs. Synchronized fireflies are only found in this specific campground and in Asia. Scientists still don't understand why they synch up though and only a couple of species do it. The synchronization went in waves, like the ocean. For a short period of time the wave would come from the left. Then they would completely synch up and then a few moments later the wave would come from the right. I've never seen anything like it.

The video here is not one that I took but it was taken in the same campground as I was in last night. I tried to take a movie with my camera but you are unable to see the synchronization.

Nature absolutely amazes me with its beauty.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I must remember this...

You won't realize the distance you've walked until you take a look around and realize how far you've been. ~Unknown

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Is it in the air? the water? or both?

This has been a rough year. There has been a lot of down days with the changes in the economy and such. But another thing that has been concerning me is the frequency with which people I know have been getting sick...people who were seemingly healthy beforehand. In March I was diagnosed with a blood clot in my leg, yet up until that point I'd been healthy. Now, within the past two weeks two of my friends have become gravely ill. It's just odd to me that this seems like a pattern.

I've never been the type to send flowers when someone is ill. Flowers die and/or you have to cart them home from the hospital. So instead I make small packages for friends with little tokens that might make them smile. My mom always bought us a new coloring book and crayons when we got sick so that is always the essential part of my get well kit, no matter what your age! I also like to add in a word search book and new pen along with a box or two of candy like Mike & Ike's or Boston Baked Beans. It just makes folks smile.

One of my friends locally has had to go into the hospital and his dog, Lucy, has had to go stay with relatives far away. I know that he misses his dear Lucy so much so I made this little scrapbook to help him be closer to her. It was simple and only took about 2 hours. Sometimes it's the little things that mean so much.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Puttin' the Creep in the Creeper Trail...

Two weeks ago my group of friends decided to ride the Virginia Creeper trail. This is a 17 mile bikeride downhill almost all of the way. There are no sections where you are going uphill but a couple where you are riding nearly flat. Below is my group of friends. From left to right: Miles, Victoria, Me, Mike, Paul, and Jackie.

The ride was great! We laughed and joked the whole way. Once I even fell off my bike while trying to get ON my bike. I was laughing so hard I couldn't even stand up. The trail is supposed to take about 3 1/2 hours to ride but we took nearly 5 1/2 hours because of all of our antics.

That's me....ridin' the trail....wheeee!!!!
We're going to go back in October when the leaves are changing colors...can't wait!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Guilt Cake...

One of my students wrote to the head professor for the course the other day because he didn't feel a quiz was fair. The quiz asked 2 questions...."who was your favorite TA?" and "did you like this class?" We thought it would be an easy 100% on the quiz. He felt it was not fair. Um....okay. So we removed the quiz and the grades the students had been awarded (all 100% by the way). Later the young man felt guilty for having written to the head professor and sent me an email that he owed me a guilt cake. I joked back with him and said "mmmm...chocolate." The next day I came into my office to find the following note and a cake (most of which the TA's had eaten by the time I took the picture).

Frank, it was delicious!! Apology accepted!!