Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Visit to Middletown, CT...

I needed a day away from Willimantic and I've been craving a stack of new books to read. I love to buy used books so I found a shop that was fairly local and headed that way. The drive took about an hour, but I drove through the backroads rather than the freeway. I just wanted to slow down my pace a bit. This is a picture of Main Street in Middletown. It's a quaint town and I enjoyed the feel. It's very gloomy today, a sign of the winter to come, I'm sure.

I stopped in at the Emporium for lunch. They have a ton of teas to try and also some coffee offerings. The people behind the counter weren't overly friendly though. Not sure I'd go back.

This is my lunch. It's a cuban sandwich. I'd never had an authentic cuban, and honestly this wasn't one either. The bread is focaccia, not the roll you normally find associated with this sandwich. It was good though and the spicy mustard cleared out my sinuses!

Then off to the bookstore, located below the restaurant. This is a small hole-in-the-wall place. I went with a list of books on my Amazon wishlist, however, I only found one of the list in the store. Oh well.

Obviously, that didn't stop me from finding other new things to read! I picked up 7 new books! Hopefully this will keep me going for a short while. I have felt so lost the few nights without a good book to read. I did have "Great Expectations" on my nightstand but I find I just can't get into it. 'Tis is too short to try to force yourself through a book you have no interest in.

I was so disappointed on the way home from this adventure because the GPS decided to take me on the freeways! GAH!! I don't mind driving on freeways but I find I really like the old backroads when I'm not in some type of a hurry or when I don't have an appointment. The feel of the journey on the way home was so much different than the way there for this exact reason. I'll be sure to tell the GPS I want an alternate route to go home from now on.

All in all, it was a good day. It's New Year's Eve here and I've been thinking about my One Little Word for 2012 as well as the goals I'm hoping to set for myself. I'll write more about those tomorrow.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Right Now...

listening: "Carol of the Bells" on Pandora.
eating: Candy Cane Hershey's Kisses
drinking: Hot water.
wearing: Nothing special.
feeling: Sad. No place feels quite like home anymore.
weather: Beautiful day in Knoxville - sunny and warm.
watching: Movies I borrowed from Carol.
waiting: for lunch...meeting a friend at Panera's.
wanting: Peace of mind.
needing: to pack my house up and get it into storage.
thinking: about how I'm going to get everything to NC and then to CT
enjoying: scrapbooking a few gifts for friends.
wondering: What the new year will hold for me.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Graduation and Stuff...

It finally happened! I graduated. December 8th I finally walked across the stage to earn my Ph.D. Man, it felt good! Interestingly enough, although my degree was earned during the summer I didn't feel very "doctorish" until I walked across the stage. Below is a picture of me with Colin, my advisor. Fun, fun, FUN!!

Being at home has been fun. It's been nice to actually be able to scrapbook a little bit again. I am going to take some supplies home with me. I miss it too much. Not only that but I have rented out my house here in Knoxville so the stuff needs to be removed anyway. Most of my items will go into storage but some of the scrapbooking stuff is coming home with me. Today I put together a small album for my friends Jackie and Paul for Christmas. It came out cute.

Heading out to dinner with friends tonight. Can't wait!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Monday will be quite a day...

Monday...11:00am...I will be finished teaching my first semester of geology. My goodness, I cannot believe that it will be done. After this first semester I know, for certain, that I am doing what I am meant to do. I have loved (almost) every minute of teaching these students about geology. I also can't believe that I've been able to keep up with preparations for class...think lectures, exams, study guides, labs, grading, etc.

Already, my mind has started thinking about teaching in the spring. I am again teaching two introductory geology classes. Now I want to add in some more content to the course so I have been looking at preparing thoughtful homework assignments, as well as revamping the major writing/research project that I have the students do. I will also be teaching an oceanography class. I will have to prepare everything from scratch for that class as well, but at least it's only one class I'm creating from scratch rather than the two I have been preparing this past semester.

On Monday I will also be finishing up my packing and getting things ready to put into the car. I'm headed back to Knoxville on Tuesday morning for a couple of weeks to graduate! I am so very excited to get to walk across the stage for the last time. My advisor, Colin, will be hooding me. It should be fun.

I will also be packing up my house and getting things moved into storage. I rented out my house - it seemed like the only logical thing to do because paying both rent and mortgage was really taxing me financially. I am so happy for the opportunity to do this.


Sunday, November 27, 2011


I think that one of the biggest mistakes I made when moving here was to not bring any of my scrapbooking supplies. I have missed it so much, and because I don't have my supplies with me then I don't feel like taking loads of pictures because I can't scrapbook them. So, now that I've rented out my house I think I will bring some of my supplies back up with me after my Knoxville visit next month. I already feel happy knowing some of my stuff will be coming with me.

I have been looking at some bracelets online and decided to buy some of the supplies to make a few for myself. Here's the stuff I bought...

And here is one of the bracelets I am going to try to copy. I found the instructions online and it doesn't seem too intimidating.
Now I wish I had my little card table to set up in my living room. I always love crafting in front of the television. Having Food Network, Cooking Channel, or HGTV in the background while crafting is such a happy thing!!

Seriously, I'm already feeling better!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

An update...

I want to start off by saying that my last post was not my usual jovial self. It's been very difficult living here in CT with no money and no friends. Hopefully that will change with the new year as I have rented out my Knoxville home. Paying both rent and mortgage, along with all of the numerous bills associated with both homes, has been really tough. Look for more upbeat posts from today forward.

Today I headed into Hartford to visit the Harriet Beecher Stowe House. WOW! What an amazingly beautiful home! For those that don't know, HBS wrote "Uncle Tom's Cabin." I took a special tour of the home. We were greeted at the front door of the home by Hattie Stowe, Harriet's oldest daughter. This was a lovely woman dressed in period costume. We were instructed to remember that we had been transported back to the late 1800's and that our questions had to reflect that date. Specifically, HBS was alive at that time so asking the actress about her Mother's death would be confusing to her.

The woman who played Hattie was exceptional! The tour began explaining that HBS had gone away for a bit of vacation but that Hattie would show us the home. We went through each room and I was so intrigued by the number of books. After the tour we found out that the actress is the museum collections manager and that all of her training has come from her history degree and her job in the museum collections. She was totally in period and I absolutely loved her presentation.

Here is a picture of the house

A picture with me and Hattie. She was fabulous!!

Afterwards, I headed to a Hartford icon, Woody's, for a hotdog and fries. I first saw this place on the news and it has been on several shows (Man vs. Food) as having excellent hotdogs. I had the southern dog, covered in chili and slaw. It was DELICIOUS!! A footlong, all beef dog, with a perfectly toasted grilled bun. Love, love, LOVE it!

Here's my lunch...

A picture of me with Woody. Loved him!!!

After all of this fun I headed back into Manchester and took back a pair of shoes to LL Bean, and then stopped in Michael's for some beading material. There's a bracelet I want to try to make for myself. Will update more as my life gets back to normal.


Sunday, October 02, 2011

I just don't understand...

Life in Connecticut is not what I expected. Even though I'm making more money ($55K vs. $15K), so much is being taken out in taxes and to pay rent and utilities, that I am living poorer than I have lived before. It cost me so much to move here, expenses that were not reimbursed by the university. If my budget continues the way it is right now (which accounts for absolutely nothing fun) then I will have to get a second job in January to be able to pay student loans because I will have $18/month after bills to buy groceries and gas for the car. Yes, seriously.

I feel like I'm dying inside, one paycheck at a time. I hate the house I am living in. I rarely find joyous moments since moving here. I thought getting a PhD was supposed to improve your life. I feel it's been my ruin. Will I ever be able to do the things I love again?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Trying to be prepared...

Although the temperatures are mild here this week (high 70's, low 80's), we need to be sure that we are prepared for the oncoming winter months! Today Miss Honor got her very own L.L. Bean fall coat in the mail. I think it will keep her nice and warm during the fall months, and hopefully the winter. My favorite part - the pocket on the back of the coat! I need to find something to put in there...any suggestions?


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hurricane Irene...

I moved here on August 3rd. For the first two weeks I had no cable and no internet. It was rough...REALLY rough. My heart sang a little bit on the day I did get cable and internet. Then a week later, it all changed. Hurricane Irene blew through Connecticut, and as it did, it took down a tree on the next block over. When the tree fell it also snapped the electric pole in half and destroyed the transformer. Here are some of the pictures I took...

We were without power for 7 1/2 days and were one of the last groups in Connecticut to get our power back. In fact, I won one of the "Last Candle Standing" awards at work (the university gave away hand-squeeze flashlights to the last 12 employees who were without power...I came in 5th place!) It's been a long time since I was so happy as when I got the power back on in the house.

Let's hope the rest of my time in Connecticut is uneventful as I feel I've had my share already...


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Life in Connecticut...

I am officially living in Connecticut now. I moved here at the beginning of August. It's been a bit of a rough road so far, but I think it will be okay in the end. Today I headed to Mystic, CT. It's a lovely small town! I went to the Mystic Aquarium because we all know how seeing the sea critters makes my little heart sing. Here are a few of the pictures I took during my visit...

Me in front of the penguin tank/encounter...

Awww...isn't he/she cute?

You know it's just not me if there isn't a picture of a starfish!

I had to search the tank over and over to find this guy. Doesn't he look like a little old man?

My sister, Roxanne, loves seahorses!

Ah, the beautiful, graceful jellyfish...

I absolutely love this picture of the jellyfish!

After the aquarium I headed to to the town and stopped and had a bit of lunch at a roadside cafe. I have had deep-fried clams almost every week that I've lived here. The ones today were absolutely delicious.

Then, the trouble began. I've been having some problems with my car recently. I've spent a fair bit of money but the issue doesn't seem to be resolved yet. After lunch my car would not start. Absolutely killed the day for me! I finally got it to start and headed home. Picked up Honor from doggy-daycare, and headed home. Had to run to Walmart to buy a microwave and nearly didn't get my car started in order to get home. I have replaced the battery (as per AAA mechanics) and replaced the starter (as per the Jeep dealer here) and yet the issue is still not corrected. Oh well, back to the shop it goes.

I'll post some pictures tomorrow from Hurricane Irene.


Friday, June 03, 2011

Life is SO Good...

This is the title of a book I am reading right now but I have to admit, I really do think life is so very good. There are daily struggles and things that make us want to pull our hair out, but overall, I love my life. I don't know how the man in this book did it. The first chapter nearly brought me to my knees wondering what the heck is wrong with people. It was hard to read. Anyway, I loved the quote by his father, who said "Life is good, and I think it's getting better." So true, so true.

Today I went into the office (first time this week) and my buddy Will and I stepped right back into our routine of bugging the crap out of each other. It's comical to watch...we've heard that many times. Don't tell him but I'm going to miss him when I'm gone...even though I'll have my own office and can shut the door if I want to. Thank goodness for text and Facebook because I'm sure the craziness will just carry on via that form of technology.

I also seem to have found out that I write best and seem to be much more focused on my dissertation when I don't start until about 3pm. This morning in the office I took pictures so there was no thinking involved. But I've been working at home now for a few hours and have several figures done and am ready to finish up the last. Over the past couple of days I've really been able to get this manuscript to a new level.

Speaking of manuscripts, my first will be published in PALAIOS Journal in August! Happy 47th birthday to me. I kind of feel like a real scientist now...and if you're nice to me maybe I'll autograph a copy for you...haha.

Finally, today I submitted my paperwork for my dissertation defense. It's on July 13th at 10:00am. It's my Dad's birthday and I'm hoping the specialness (is that a word?) of the day will bring me good luck.

Note to self: must incorporate yoga into my life again.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Where does the time go?

Sorry it's been so long. I say that a lot, don't I? Ah well. I do know where my time has gone though. I've been crazy busy writing so that I can finish my dissertation in July. I've also been working on some moving plans as I'll be leaving for Connecticut in August. I'll be working as an Assistant Professor and I'm very excited.

I have taken some time though to do a few things. Two items that were on my bucket list are now crossed off:

Milking a cow...
and, taking a ride in a hot air balloon...

Both were great fun but the hot air balloon went above and beyond all of my expectations. I did this in Asheville and the countryside was so beautiful as seen from 5,500 feet above ground! I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I've also been working on packing up portions of my house. I put my house up for sale but am not certain I'm really interested in selling it. I have several reasons, but I really like knowing that no matter what happens job-wise I always have a place to come back to. And, I really love my house and Knoxville (never thought I'd say I love Knoxville...but I do). The housing market is so bad right now and I really feel I should hold onto the house until the market gets better. I started a refi the other day that will lower my house payment by $200/month. I think that I can afford my mortgage and rent in Connecticut with my new salary.

Alright, I'm off to do some writing. I've goofed off most of today and I'll probably regret that. I'll put in a couple of good work hours tonight to make up for it.