Sunday, August 19, 2007

Gena tagged me for a meme that is based on fours. Personally, I prefer multiples of 3, but I'll be good and follow the rules.

Four jobs I have had:

1. Dog Bather/Groomer/Kennel Person - This was a fun job, though it was a little stinky sometimes.
2. Waitress - The management and coworkers treat you with respect. The customers treat you like trash. I don't miss this job (or 13-hour shifts with no chance to eat) one bit.
3. Laboratory Technician - I miss my old biochemistry labmates. I should email them and let them know I passed my quals!
4. Graduate Student - Amazingly, this is somehow my highest-paying job yet. Despite the fact that it can be a bit. . . traumatic at times I love what I do and I'm really happy I chose this school.

Four places I have lived:

1. Florida - This is where I was born. I don't remember much about it
2. Alaska - My middle sister was born here. I was still very young, so all of my memories of Nome are from our summer visits in later years.
3. Kentucky - My family lived here the longest, and the rest of them remain there today. Strangely enough I really have no opinion about the part of Kentucky my parents live in. I'm just completely neutral.
4. North Carolina - I moved here for graduate school in 2005, and I love it. I live in a city that is big enough to be exciting and have an arts district, but it's still small enough that I can drive "downtown" without freaking out from traffic or feeling unsafe.

Four Favorite Foods:

1. Dark Chocolate - seriously
2. Mushroom Quesadillas - there's a place in Wilson, NC that has the perfect mushroom quesadilla. My aunt and uncle know that we have to go there everytime I visit them. It's always followed with a chaser of #3.
3. Peanut Butter Milkshakes - from Sonic
4. Pasta served with an EVOO-based sauce

Four places I would rather be:

1. In Kentucky - one thing about grad school is you don't get to see the family very often.
2. In Canada - one thing about grad school is you don't get to see the significant other very often. 3. In Texas - because I miss Steve & Julie, and Julie could really use a companion right now.
4. Gathered around a board game with my classmates (we're huge dorks that way).

This is the point where I would normally tag 5 (or maybe it should be 4 to keep with the theme) other bloggers to complete this. However, I never was a fan of spreading viral memes, and since I am supposed to be an immunologist I choose apoptosis not to tag anyone else. Really, all my friends who blog have already been tagged and I'm too shy to tag someone I haven't met in person!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Alaska: The Final Installment

I will be sharing the last of the Alaskan vacation pictures in this post. Today will be Alaskan wildlife, starting with, um, my sisters. I just love the setting of this picture of my sisters. Most years there are lots of wildlife encounters, we almost always see a herd of reindeer or caribou - this one was mixed.
It's much more rare to see large cats, though. This year they had an opportunity to see a lynx up close! The photo is a bit blurry because the picture is taken through a car window, and since the roads are made of packed dirt there was a lot of dust in the air. I just love the way she's peeking out of the willows to see what the silly humans are doing in her haunt.

Finally, every fiber-enthusist's dream - a musk ox in summer. After seeing the beasts close up you can begin to understand why quivit is so expensive. My family saw 4 herds this year - that's a record. There were no moose or bears to report this year - we ususally do see those pretty frequently.

For those of you who have not already heard - I passed my qualifying exams this week. It still really hasn't sunk in for me yet, so it feels kind of. . . hollow to say it. I must have post-traumatic stress disorder about the whole thing! About 3 months ago, when I was really settling into the writing process, I made a promise to myself that when I finished my candidacy exam I would treat myself to my first big lace project. I ordered the yarn in early August from Sarah's Yarns. It is JaggerSpun's Zephyr Laceweight - a 50/50 wool/silk blend. I like the fact that it's a tussah silk (meaning no silkworms were killed in the making of this shawl). The color I chose is copper, and it does almost have a metallic sheen to it, especially in natural light. The light in my apartment however, is far from natural. All that "shine" you see is from the flash. I promise it's not that gaudy in person. :) The yarn slides against itself really well so I expect it will block beautifully!

The pattern I finally chose was the Swallowtail Lace Shawl from Interweave Knits (Fall 2006). I chose the pattern for several reasons. First, it's pretty. This is the very best reason to knit a shawl. Secondly, it has 3 different stitch motifs to keep me interested and challenged. Finally, it has a low yardage. I didn't want my first lace project to be epic. Honestly, I've been progresssing much more quickly than I anticipated. I've got 1200m of this yarn in sage green for my next lace project. It will be one of the many beautiful large stoles from Victorian Lace Today. I still haven't chosen which.
The lace pattern isn't difficult - there are really only 3 patterned rows. It's actaully quite relaxing to knit. I put in a lifeline just in case, but I probably won't be using them very frequently. I have finished repeat 7/14 of the main body so I still have a long way to go before I hit the acrobatics in the border. I intend to do the nupps because I can't get enough texture in my knitting. I knit pretty loosely so I think I'll be able to manage a p5tog, especially since I'm using nice pointy Knitpicks' Options needles.
Ah, it's good to knit again.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Summer Landscape

Alaska is beautiful. This first image really gives a sense of the vastness of it all. Congratulations on capturing such a great shot while moving! I am very impressed.

The Alaskan countryside is not just impressive in size. I love this shot of lichen growing in the rocky soil. It's really moving to see life in an environment which can be so harsh.

The landscape is occasionally marked with structures. This particular one is an abandoned gold dredge (This looks a lot like the one that is just outside of Nome, though I can't be certain). It looks as if all of the dredge buckets have been taken. Aside from that this is an incredibly well-preserved structure. It's crazy how you can be out on the ATVs going along a stream and find these dredges rotting and rusted out. It really gives you a sense of history.

I'm particularly fond of this shot because you can see the clouds reflected in the river here. There are rivers and small pools everywhere in Alaska - I think it has the most inland lakes of any state in the US.

The most impressive thing about the water up north is that it is so free of pollutants (even natural ones). You can see here that the water is so clear you can easily see the bottom of the river bed. I remember stopping at this place on our way to camp before. While it's a challenge to actually guess the depth of water (all that annoying bending of light) I would guess this is at least 8 feet deep at the point between the two rocks. There is a little riffle just upstream (next to Hollie's knee) and despite the churning, the water downstream is still completely free of silt. Gorgeous.

This next photograph also demonstrates how clean it is in Alaska. I can think of few areas within the lower 48 where you could see this far into the distance. The only reason you can't see further is that it is obstructed in clouds.

So, what image made it onto my computer's desktop? This is definately my favorite photograph in the lot (all 3 CDs worth!) I love the composition and use of color. The building is so perfectly weathered in contrast to fresh blooming fireweed. Truly a magnificent photograph.
Thanks for sending all your pics guys.

I decided to one more day of photographs because this post would have run on very long if I'd included wildlife photos. Those will come later this week

Monday, August 13, 2007

You guys are the BEST!

My family sent me pictures from Alaska! I went through all 3 CDs (it took me over an hour) and selected my favorites. I'm sure you guys will be surprised by some of my picks!

First up is a tender moment shared between my grandparents. I think this photo captures their relationship perfectly. Mom was rarely in photographs, so I don't have any of her to share. Instead, I bring you the beach bums: Hollie (in blue) Hannah (in black) and Dave (boyfriend of Hollie - in shorts). They're on the beach wearing hoodies and eating suckers. Knowing my family those are Tootsie Roll Pops. Are you guys still saving the wrappers with the Native American shooting the star?
Now, on to the images that actually made me laugh! First up we have Hannah demonstrating the mischevious beast known as "The Midnight Sun." Clearly what has happened here is Hannah was suddenly overcome with exhaustion because she didn't realize it was 2am. Sneaky thing, that never-setting sun.

Ah, Patrick F. McManus. I think the F stands for "Fun For the whole Family." I think we've all read his books when we head up north. It's good to see that Dave was indoctrinated. It's great that our family can say things like "Remember the one with the coat?" and we can all just have a little chuckle knowing exactly what story they're referring to. Also, I love the fact that Missy (the poodle) is totally zonked on Dave's arm. She actually ended up in a lot of my favorite pictures! For the fiber fans out there - note Grandma's vintage crocheted afghans. She has won awards for her crochet before! That explains where I inherited the yarn gene.

Finally, my favorite. I call this one the Moose Montague. Click it to get the full effect of the goofy moose faces.

I begged my family to send these pictures hastily so that I could select an image to use as a background for my computer. I have a presentation tomorrow and I wanted to have something interesting up to possibly spark light conversation before everyone arrives. I think I've chosen the shot (and I think you guys will be surprised). Tomorrow will bring big news and my favorite scenery and wildlife shots.
Thanks for sending these so fast guys!!!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Long Overdue

With my recent intense focus on schoolwork my household cleaning routine has been rather. . . disrupted. This morning I realized I hadn't vacuumed the livingroom rug in a month! So, I hastily retrieved my vacuum cleaner from the dark & mysterious hall closet. I was unfurling the cord when I realized my vacuum had a resident. A rather bulbous spider with a web full of other spiders! She wasn't particularly large - less than a cm but what impressed me was the gorgeous markings on her abdomen. In this photo you can see two white v's and then the start of a smaller white marking to the rear of her abdomen - it was the shape of a cross. I appologize for the blurry photo - she was tearing out of there!
Yes, that is a bit of wool on the left. I did say I was overdue for a vacuum. ^_~
If she had been a good little spider and stayed in one location I would have let her be - but since she was on the move (and was on the cusp of comfortable spider cohabitation size) I decided a flip-flop was the appropriate fate for her. And guys, her guts were the most lovely shade of lavendar. Everything about this spider was just entrancing.
Do you guys ever take a moment to really look at the spiders in your homes? Also, am I the only person that will let a spider live in her house as long as it is stationary and under a certain size?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Targeted Advertisement

For all of you who are just here for the fiber, this little blurb isn't for you.

Today I used google to search a phrase that included "DNA," as we molecular biology types are wont to do. When my search results popped up, so did a series of targeted ads. You would think that a search for "DNA" would lead to advertisements for textbooks, journals, or educational sites. Not so much. Every advert. was for paternity/infidelity testing.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


When life throws a tragedy at me I try to escape in humor. Or, I will knit. Sometimes, I even try both.

Painful as it is, you made the right decision, Judy.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Dear Family,

Dear Family,

Your cellulars are either not getting service or they are off. I tried calling the land line, but apparently that is now hooked up to a modem. Boy was it a surprise to hear that on the other end of the line! Very loud things, those modems.

Since Lil' Bit left a comment here I am guessing you arrived safely and have internet access. So, here's an update on life here on the ranch!

I turned in my grant proposal yesterday. It was a really traumatic and stressful experience made all the more stressful & traumatic by my boss. I really don't want to go into details because thinking about it just makes me really angry and nervous. The oral defense is the 14th, so you guys will be back in town by then. But, I'll probably be pretty absorbed in my preparations.

Today the boss gave his famous "passion" speech to us again. He asked E & I what our passions were, and we both answered "family." Bossman indicated that this was a passion that needed to be put on the back burner in order to do the "grad school thing". The question I was dieing to ask (but I refrained, so as not to be labeled "cheeky" twice in one day) was "So, when can family be the most important thing again?" Because from where I stand now, it looks like it "can't" be. Even the post-doc in our lab admitted that he's just had to find a balance. I love science and learning, but it makes me sad when the other things I care about have to be forsaken. Last time I was home Dad told me that all I ever talk about is science - I gave that some thought, and it's true. I've become this totally 2-dimensional personality. I need to do something, I'm just not sure what.

So, how's Alaska been so far? Chase any caribou off the roads this year? I admit that I secretly hope you've been stalking some muskoxen for me (from a safe distance, of course). I expect you to upload your photos on some online album type thingy so I can see them all. I'm not going to wait until Christmas!

I miss you guys tons! Give me a call sometime (or just turn on your cell phones!).

Much <3,
Elke/Kris/Big Bit/Sugar Pie/Honey Bunch/The Abominable Snow Midget
We do favor our nicknames, don't we guys?

P.S. I totally wasn't kidding about the photos!