Sunday, September 19, 2010

Eastern Triangle Farm Tour

This weekend my parents and I visited several local farms as part of the Fifth Annual Eastern Triangle Farm Tour, put together by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. It was quite fun! The hours are 1pm-5pm, and there were 24 farms participating, spread out far and wide. We had to pick just a few to visit. It was a tough decision. Hopefully this will help any future participants choose.


1. We started out at Turtle Mist Farm in Franklinton. It was easy enough to find (we used the Garmin) and were greeted by two volunteers who gave us our "Support Local Farms" button that would serve as our ticket for all the visits (I'd prepaid for the tour online--only $25 per car load for all farms, both days). We were warned that the fences were electric, but that they weren't lethal; just a mild shock. Of course that meant I had to touch to see what it felt like! Not painful, but definitely not comfortable! The first thing we saw was a beekeeper selling honey. We bought a glass of "honeyade," which was delicious. We walked over to the chicken coops where they had several different breeds. They were allowed to just roam around wherever they pleased. Then we went down to the pens where they keep turkeys, ducks, and geese. We spoke with someone who I believe works on the farm. She gave us info about raising the birds and showed us the incubator where she was keeping turkey eggs warm until they hatch. We strolled around the garden area a bit, then wandered over to the pasture where the pigs are kept. There were four big brown ones, and a box of past-their-prime vegetables to feed to them.

They were in a mud hole and splashed around trying to get around each other to get the food I was holding out. We saw a cow, but it was behind fencing so we couldn't get close. We walked back up to the front and bought a cup of lemonade (it was a HOT day) and then it was off to the next farm.

2. Next was Homestead Harvest Farm in Wake Forest. I enjoyed this one more because we had a guide the whole time who answered all our questions and provided lots of information. We had to put little surgical booties on to prevent contamination of the farm. Here we got to hold a baby chicken.

If I remember correctly, this one was 4 weeks old. He (she?) was very warm! He was molting so wasn't fully covered with feathers, and his skin was against my hand. We walked around to several of the "chicken tractors," which are coops that you can move around to different parts of pasture so they always have fresh grass, and they fertilize as they go along! These were meat chickens. The laying hens were in a different type of portable coop, one with boxes where they could lay their eggs. My dad is interested in building a coop and having laying hens so he had lots of questions. We also saw a couple of pigs. They were young, but not babies. I got to go inside the pen and pet the girl.

She was very sweet. The boy was not as friendly. Next we walked down to see the turkeys. They have a ton of them and they are so vocal! It goes in waves. If one starts off, the rest chime in. I was squatting down to get some photos and one came up to me, very curious. Then she suddenly reached out and bit me! It wasn't a big deal, but it was funny. It's also funny to see the males, who can turn their faces blue to impress the ladies.

We went inside the processing house, where the chickens are defeathered, dressed, etc. We bought more lemonade (!) and then headed back to the car.

3. The final farm for Saturday was Meadow Lane Farm in Louisburg. This was also enjoyable because the owner, Martha, gave us a tour and filled us in on all the history. The farm has been in her family for almost a hundred years, and the farm house was originally built in the early 1800's. They are in the process of restoring it, which is quite an undertaking. We met Lily, their sweet Australian Shepherd working dog, and stood in the shade of an absolutely enormous pecan tree. We saw the goats that they show at the State Fair,

and as we were driving in we saw lots of their cattle. They raise them as nature intended--open pasture, lots of sun, etc. They are even certified humane. Mom and Dad bought a pound of ground beef and I said I'd eat a hamburger made from it...since I know it came from a cow that lived a happy life. It will be interesting to see what it tastes like. I don't know if I'll even like it! They were giving out samples of their bratwurst, but I didn't have a piece. One thing I was shocked to learn from Steve, Martha's husband, was that only about 10% of what's sold at the Raleigh State Farmers' Market is actually grown in NC!! He said the Durham Farmers' Market is much stricter about who they let sell there. I will definitely have to check that out soon.


1. I ventured out on my own to visit Prodigal Farm in Rougemont. They raise goats and have a dairy that was just certified two weeks ago. I was escorted to where the next tour would begin, and while I waited with some others, we sampled different cheeses. I tried the marinated feta (delicious!) and the "Bollywood" which had curry and pear. I also had a sample of the "goat cheesecake." It was chocolate flavored and tasted just like regular cheesecake until the end, when you got that little punch of goat cheese flavor. Dave, the owner, brought the goats up to the dairy

so the visitors could pet them. They were very friendly and liked to rub up against you. I caught one little goat drinking from what I would assume was his mom, but who knows. He wasn't a baby, but must have been young enough. I went over to get a picture but then he stopped. I pet him, and when I stopped, he took his hoof and pawed against my leg, which I interpreted as, "Don't stop!" I love the shape of their pupils.

We got to see where the goats are milked, but they didn't do a demo--the goats are only milked in the morning and evening, and put out a half gallon each time. We were told that other breeds produce much more. Then we went into the room where they put the curds and whey into molds and let the whey drain out. Then, depending on what kind of cheese they're making, it either goes into one fridge to age, or it goes into a colder one until it's time to be sold. They did have a few things for sale but apparently Saturday's crowd pretty much cleaned them out. That's a good thing!

2. Next I went to Son Rise Farm, which was the tiniest farm I stopped at, and was the shortest visit at only about 10 minutes. I saw sheep and chickens,

but they supposedly have rabbits too. They spin the wool into yarn,

and make soap out of the goat milk. There were signs up around the different pens, explaining the different breeds, but most of the animals were out of sight, likely due to the heat.

3. The last farm I visited was Brinkley Farms in Creedmoor. It was the biggest operation that I could tell, at least in terms of produce. We got to go on a hayride

around to the different fields (they're currently growing different kinds of beans and arugula as well as late-season corn)

and see the pastures (again, all the animals were out of sight in the shade). They had a big barn where they were selling pumpkins and other squash. I got one to put on my porch. I heard another tour participant saying that they really enjoyed Vollmer Farm, so I'll have to remember that for next year.

Tips for future participants: Bring lots of water! Wear closed-toe shoes. A hat might be helpful to keep the sun out of your eyes. Bring cash to purchase drinks or the items the farmers are selling. There was no pressure to buy though. All of the farmers I met were very friendly and eager to share about their lives, the land, and what they grow and raise.

There is another tour in the Spring--the Piedmont Farm Tour in April. Here's an article about last year's tour.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Natalie Merchant at the Shaker Heritage Society

Today I met Natalie Merchant. Five words I couldn't be more ecstatic to write! Here's the story.

Saturday morning I flew from Raleigh to Baltimore to Albany, NY. I rented a car and drove straight to the Shaker Heritage Society, the organization hosting the event.

The story goes that Natalie was in Albany about 10 years ago, getting some repairs done on a car she was going to give to her mother. To kill some time, the dealership suggested she check out the Shaker site. She's a history buff, and although she enjoyed her visit, back then it was hardly anything to speak of. Fast forward a few years, and Natalie has a baby. Around age 3, she becomes obsessed with the Shakers (apparently after being exposed to them via a Ken Burns documentary on PBS--only Natalie's child would have such an archaic and esoteric fixation). Imagine a three-year-old singing one of their hymns over and over and dancing around to it, Shaker style no less. Natalie makes her a Shaker outfit and she wears it constantly, even insisting on wearing it to her first day of preschool. Then, apparently Natalie visited the Shaker site a few months ago and saw all the work being done to restore it, and offered her talents to help raise funds. So the benefit concert idea was born.

When I heard about it, I was intrigued, because this kind of venue is uniquely Natalie. I contemplated going, and wavered, mostly because it involves a flight, a hotel, and not-cheap tickets. But the more I heard about it, I was ever more tempted. I priced everything out and decided I wanted to take the plunge. I found out there would be three tiers of tickets. I settled on the middle one. Then they announced a tour of the grounds with Natalie herself, for an extra (hefty) donation. My parents graciously gifted me the funds as a birthday present so I could participate. Then they announced that the first show had sold out and a second was being added! I figured, I'm already paying all this money to get there, I might as well see her all that I can!

So anyway, I arrived at the Shaker Heritage Society (SHS) and toured the itty bitty (but very informative) museum, met Brother William the meeting house cat, and purchased a couple of things from the gift shop. The volunteer who rang me up was full of fascinating information--did you know that the Shakers were not granted conscientious objector status (and thus exemption from conscription) during the Civil War until they agreed to supply the Union Army with herbal medicines (including opium and cannabis) and provide a rocking chair for Abe Lincoln himself?

I walked around outside enjoying the bright blue sky and the crisp fall air. In the pasture were three oxen, one of which (the biggest, I might add) came over to pay me a visit.

Last night I didn't sleep well at all, too full of excitement and anticipation for today. I'd set my alarm for 6:30 am so I could check in for my Southwest flight home and wasn't able to go back to sleep. I didn't know what to do with myself. Finally 11 am rolled around so I could go into the little gift shop to get my tickets. (They were will call only.)

I'd managed to score fifth row on the side for the first show, and sixth row dead center for the second. They were sold over the phone only back in August (no online option), and it took well over 100 calls for me to get through, so I was grateful I didn't end up in the way back! SHS is a tiny operation--they have like 3 phone lines. This was the first event of this kind they've ever held, way beyond the scope of anything they've ever done before.

Back to getting the tickets (whoo, lots of tangents!) So the shop is attached to the meeting house, and I could hear Natalie rehearsing! I tried to sneak a peak but they closed the door. :( She sounded AH-mazing. Just a little teaser for what was to come!

I still had an hour until the tour, so I went back to the car and saw a gentleman walking around. We exchanged "hi's" and of course were both there for the same reason, so we hit it off immediately. Oh, let me tell you how satisfying it is to have a conversation with someone who has the same passion as you! Andrew and I are both Natalie nerds to the core, we had so much to talk about, it was nonstop gabbing. Shortly before noon we located Justin and his wife Carmen. Justin and I go "way back," as they say--back to the days of trading bootleg cassette tapes of Natalie shows--but we'd never met. He's an even bigger fan than I, if you can imagine. He goes to everything. Her performance with the Boston Pops? There. Her week at the Hiro in NYC? There. I WISH I could have gone to those!

Anyway, so noon rolls around and we're told that Natalie is finishing up rehearsal. Our guide, Starlyn, the executive director of SHS, begins speaking to the 13 of us about Shaker history. It really is interesting--you should read about it if you get a chance. About 8 after, Natalie emerges. Down the steps she comes, wearing a black trench coat, black scarf, and black boots, hair in a bun. I have a freeze frame in my mind of the instant I saw her. I'd told Andrew before, "I hope I don't gasp." I did. Thankfully she wasn't close enough to hear me. :) Sadly, though, she went to the back of the group, and pretty much stayed there the whole tour. And it wasn't much of a tour, really. We learned a lot, but we stood in one spot for 15 minutes, then moved to another spot 30 yards away for another 15 minutes, and then finished up back by the first spot. I mean, whatever, right, I wasn't there for the tour per se, I was there to see and meet Natalie. But she kind of made herself inconspicuous, so I felt like I had to sneak pictures even though I'd arranged with Starlyn weeks before to be "the SHS photographer" for the event. Nevertheless, sneak I did.

Natalie wasn't wearing any makeup and was squinting in the daylight so they weren't the best shots, but I was mere feet away from my all-time idol, so what do I care, right?!

So our time is up, and Starlyn says thank you to all of us for taking the tour, and Natalie starts to leave. I tap Starlyn on the shoulder and say, "Can I get a picture of you and Natalie?" Totally professional, right? It's for the organization! So she literally jogs up to Natalie and asks her to step aside. I take two quick shots and then thankfully someone in the tour group (Justin's wife Carmen!) asks Natalie, "Can we take a few pictures with you?" Natalie said, "Yes, as long as it's quick. I have to get back inside to finish rehearsing." So that began the parade of people posing with Natalie. Somehow I ended up being everyone's photographer--they all just handed me their cameras! Fine by me, I love it! Then there was no one with her and she said, "Come on!" to the group, with her arm out to the side, motioning someone to come get a photo. So I handed my camera to someone--anyone who would take it!--and Natalie asked me, "So where are you from?" I said, "North Carolina." Then we smiled for the camera (the woman didn't know how to work it, but with some coaching from me and the newspaper photographer, she figured it out--kinda). And that was it. I wanted to tell her how much I love her voice, and how much her songs mean to me, and how I've adored her for 17 years, and how much getting to meet her meant to me, but of course none of that came out, probably for the better, I guess.

Anyway, she left, and I looked at the photo of me and her.

Alas, it's quite overexposed but at least we're both looking at the camera and--AND--at least it didn't rain! Oh my word, I was so grateful that the rain held off! Talk about a blessing. And, of course everyone else had cameras too--both Justin and Carmen have iPhones, and they both took pics of me while I was with Natalie, so they both instantly emailed them to me. I posted Carmen's on Facebook. I took lots of pictures of Andrew when he was with Natalie--he'd met her before, and was telling her the story of it, so he spoke with her the longest.

After that, we got in line to go inside (btw, more rehearsal my hat! They were letting people into the meeting house not five minutes later!) We entered through the back (which is where the Shakers would let "worldly" people in to observe their prayer services) and I sat on the far left, fifth row. (Andrew had front row center!) There was an opening act, Shelving Rock, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why, until later I learned that one of the members is on the SHS board. They were good--a fiddler and a guitarist--but honestly, we were all there for Natalie. Gabriel Gordon and Eric De La Penna were her guitarists, and there was a cello player too. They came in first, through the front doors, and started playing a slow song. Natalie came in through the back, which waxed a bit bridal in my opinion. Come to find out later that she'd planned to have a candle and incense, but the fire marshal put the kibosh on that! When she reached the front, she started singing, and not more than 10 seconds into it, she stopped abruptly. The acoustics of the meeting house are such that you can hear every. single. sound. So the shutter clicks were quite disruptive! She gave a good-hearted lecture about being "in the moment," and she gave us all "a moment" to capture. She pranced around with a big smile on her face and we all furiously took photos. Some of my faves, although none are of a technical quality I'm particularly proud of:

Then we had to put our cameras away. This was contrary to her previous consent that we would be allowed to take photos for the first three songs. But, it's Natalie. You do what she asks.

She started another song (never finished the first one, btw, not that I knew what it was--perhaps it was the Shaker hymn). She did lots of poetry ones (she's been on a kick of setting old poems to music she writes), some folk ones from House Carpenter's Daughter ("Owensboro," "Weeping Pilgrim," Bury Me Under the Willow Tree,") and then a few "mainstream" ones, like "Break Your Heart" and "Kind and Generous." The whole performance seemed very disjointed. She interrupted herself in the middle of many songs, either to have someone tune their guitar, to comment on a passing airplane (we were across the street from the airport), to start some lyrics over, etc. She didn't seem to know what to do with herself, not having a microphone. Oh yes. The whole thing was completely unplugged. No amplification whatsoever. Which was supposed to be awesome, because the acoustics of the meeting house are amazing. When it's empty. Put 310 living, breathing, coughing, sneezing, squirming bodies in there on folding chairs, and the acoustics change--imagine that! So she was walking up and down the center aisle, going to the way back so they could hear at least something, her guitarists following her around like a three-person mini parade. It was kind of awkward, but Natalie just rolled with it, and was very good humored about it. She conducted two sing-alongs, one to "Tell Yourself," and the other to "Kind and Generous." It was funny how people used very soft voices in order to try and not drown out Natalie, but then she wanted everyone to clap, and that was the end of that. No hope hearing her over all that ruckus! But it was fun nonetheless.

Another feature of this old building--no ventilation. It was only 60 degrees outside, but it was SO hot and stuffy inside. Poor Natalie, wearing a wool jacket. She commented on her poor choice of clothing, and I wasn't surprised that for the second show she changed into a cooler dress.

I unfortunately did have a coughing spell during the show, but thankfully a) it was when Natalie was performing in the back, and b) I was seated right next to an exit. Water, cough drop, and a swig of cough syrup (from a film canister!!) and I was all better.

She was supposed to end at 3:00, but played till about 3:25--yay! Andrew and I went to Panera for a snack and drink and then back for the 5:00 show!

Oh my word, it couldn't have been more different!!!! This show made my life. I can die happy now. It was absolutely incredible. SO. She entered through the back again, but somehow this time, there were only like 2 camera clicks, so she didn't stop mid-song. She sang the whole thing, and again, I think it was a Shaker hymn, but I'm not sure. Hard to know since she did so many poetry songs. After the first song, she did the briefest little "camera moment"--nowhere near as flaunting as the first show--then told us all to put our cameras away. She promised there would be another camera moment later, but there never was. :( But you could tell she was in a different mood, she felt more in control, she knew what she was getting into and had a plan.

She danced more, and since she was wearing a flowy skirt it made a nice prop for her to fling around. There was still some spontaneity to the set, and she even did some different songs, like "Calico Pie" (a children's nonsense poem by Edward Lear), which she really seemed to enjoy.

By the middle of the show, it was getting dark outside. There were three lights pointed at the front of the room, but nothing in the rest of the meeting house. So when she'd venture to the back, Eric and Gabe in tow, she was in the shadows. Again, it added to the atmosphere of the venue. For "If No One Marries Me," she went to one side of the back and did a verse, then went to the other side and did the same verse, so they could hear. The audience got a kick out of this, especially since it's the verse that talks about getting old at 28 or 29, and buying an orphan girl to raise as her own (this is a poem from the Victorian era).

She didn't stop in the middle of any songs this time around...unless you count "Tell Yourself," where she tends to get choked up at the end. But it was a great moment. She commented that whenever she sings, "And there's just no getting 'round the fact that you're thirteen," all her painful teenage memories flood back and she can't help herself. "I gave those to God and he just sends them right back to me!" she shouted. And might I add that this took place literally three feet away from me. As I said, I had an aisle seat this time, and she walked up and down that aisle a dozen times, and each time she passed me I got to hear her voice--unamplified, pure, and natural--up close and personal. Oh my lord, it just gets to me! Something about the tone of it, the timbre, it is just so sublime. So even though I was in the sixth row, I felt like I was in the front row more than once. But never more than during her last song.

She ended with "Kind and Generous" again, and at the end there is this one bit that just repeats over and over--"Thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you." So we're all singing along, and she's walking down the aisle, and she looks right at me, and I look right back at her, and we're both singing, and she leans in close to my face--we're talking inches away--and sings, "Thank you, thank you!" Well, you can imagine my glee, my sheer bliss at that moment. As I'm writing about it now, I want to just scream: "AAAAAAH!" The thing is, she has lots of rabid fans; we are a hard core--but benevolent!--group, and that has to be awkward, knowing that there are these people out there that practically worship you. I understand why she's shy. But that one moment, just that small gesture, meant the world to me, and I am so grateful for it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Test your hearing

You're a little frustrated that you can't hear all the tones that the young 'uns can but will be more than happy if it means you don't have to listen to their damn ringtones on the bus anymore.

The highest pitched ultrasonic mosquito ringtone that I can hear is 14.9kHz
Find out which ultrasonic ringtones you can hear!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Back in the USA

Our plane landed at LAX ahead of schedule and we are safely back in So Cal. The FlyAway was a madhouse, but we made it on finally and once again, our first stop was good ol' In 'n' Out. Gotta have it! I took over 3000 pictures in total (of Australia and NZ, not In 'n' Out!) so my task tomorrow is to go through them and write about each day of our trip. There are so many stories to tell!

Monday, June 08, 2009

We leave tomorrow!

I arrived in L.A. yesterday and the first thing we did was go to In-n-Out. Yum! Then hopped on the 405 and sat in traffic. Welcome back! We headed for Nicole's friends' house--Aaron, whom she teaches at La Mesa with, and his wife Kim. They have an 18 month old baby girl, Kara. She is so cute! She was a little unsure of me, but while I was there, she played fetch with Ellie (their min pin), and giggled profusely at the dog's reaction to the squeaky ball. She ran across the yard with Aunt Nicole. She stared intensely at her shelves of books until finally picking out two for her daddy to read to her. And she ate a tomato like an apple! Earlier in the day, Kim had told her that she could go outside after dinner. So when Nicole and I came in with the food, she immediately went to put on her shoes. What a memory!

I tried to sleep on the plane and thought I would do really well, because I was feeling nappy when we first got on, and I figured taking 2 benadryl would seal the deal. But it was still pretty much a very deep "rest" more than a light "sleep." I think the key is the alcohol-benadryl combination! Also, only a 5.5 hour flight, in the middle of the day. The flight to NZ will be 13 hours and overnight, so that will also encourage sleep. The onboard movie was He's Just Not That Into You, which I'd already seen, so I didn't bother watching it. But afterwards was an elephant documentary which was very interesting. You know how most nature films they're like, "This baby has wandered away from it's mother and will surely die. Elsewhere on the plain..." and you're like, "You're right there, why don't you help it for crying out loud??!" Well, this film was about people who DO intervene to help, so that was very satisfying. I saw the part where they had to sedate a baby and its mother to give the baby an injection of antibiotics for its broken foot, which had become infected internally. High drama, because there was a risk that the mama would pass out on top of the baby. Then it looked like the mama was going to land on her chest, blocking her airway. They had to tie ropes around her and use their vehicle to roll her over! In the end everything worked out though. My kind of animal documentary!!

So I made it until about 10:00 pm last night, which is 1am Eastern time, before I had to crash. I slept until about 6:30. I had a disturbing dream in which I took my iPhone out of my purse, and a bracelet I'd brought was wrapped around it. The problem was, the bracelet was magnetic (?) and had messed up the phone pretty bad. (Of course, there is no hard drive inside the iPhone--it's flash memory--which is not affected by magnets. But you know how dreams are!) So in my dream I was very upset because the phone basically wouldn't work, and I could take it to the Apple Store and have them restore it to factory settings, but then I would lose all my content. Not forever, because it's on my home computer, but my home computer is 2500 miles away at the moment! Oh so distressing. I was very relieved when I woke up and realized it was a dream! I do have to call AT&T customer service, though, because yesterday at Dulles airport I was unable to use the AT&T wireless service which is supposed to be free for all iPhone customers. It said something about not recognizing my number. When I called the wifi customer support, they said something is wrong with my account, but of course AT&T is closed on Sundays so all he could do is authorize access to the wifi as if I'd paid, and then I could deal with AT&T the next day. I swear, I've had nothing but problems w/ AT&T. If I was not absolutely head over heals in love with and addicted to my iPhone, I would go back to Verizon in a heartbeat. I have heard rumors that Verizon might be getting the iPhone next year, and if that's the case, I will be switching back for sure. I don't care if I have to pay an early termination fee! At least Verizon doesn't screw up your account twice in 4 months!

Whew! I must be in a mood to type! I haven't posted this much in eons. The plan for today is to get pedicures and maybe go to the movies. Pretty chill. The weather here is super nice. Unseasonably cool for June. I'll take it! Mid-70's all week, while it's high 80's and low 90's with thunderstorms in NC! That is one part of NC I won't miss while I'm gone! I do miss my baby, though. Comet is in good hands, though, and I am just going to keep telling myself that animals don't really have a sense of time, so me being gone 3 weeks isn't different from me being gone overnight. Hard to believe, but that's what they say.

Okay, ta ta for now!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Some web finds

If you're like me, you have a bunch of stuff in the fridge, but when you open it, you say, "There's nothing for dinner!" There's a website to help us! It's called SuperCook, and all you have to do is enter in all the stuff you have on hand, and then it will generate a list of recipes you can make right now! Of course, if all you have is ketchup and Diet Coke, you're out of luck, but even seemingly random ingredients can come together and make a yummy meal. If you sign up for a free account, it will remember your list of foods so all you have to do is update it (out of carrots, but bought oranges, etc.). According to the site, I can make almost 800 recipes right now, including Chicken Cacciatore, Asparagus Risotto, and Breakfast Tortilla Strata. Of course, all I did was boil some ravioli, but it's nice to know I have options.

Just One Club Card is a website for those of us with a multitude of plastic "loyalty" cards. All you do is enter the barcode numbers from the back of the cards and choose the store names from drop-down boxes. The site then generates a credit card-sized image with up to 8 barcodes on it, which you can print out and even laminate if you wish. Not only does it save room on your wallet or keychain, but it makes it much easier to find the card you need. Mine has Kroger, CVS, Food Lion, Borders, Lowes Foods, PetSmart, Hallmark, and Dick's Sporting Goods. You can also do library cards via the "Advanced" tool.

And finally, if you like kaleidoscopes, you will like Repper. You can do stuff with the images that result if you want, but I just think it's fun to play with.

Best SNL skit in years

Leave it to Will Ferrell and a surprisingly hilarious Tom Hanks to produce one of the funniest skits to appear on SNL in quite some time. (Well, those Tina Fey/Sarah Palin ones were pretty entertaining!)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Piedmont Wildlife Festival

A couple weekends ago I was the "official photographer" for the Piedmont Wildlife Festival in Durham, NC. I volunteered for the role, and was pleased as punch to be taking pix of animals all day. Here are a few of my favorites:

I came to know the Piedmont Wildlife Center when a coworker tried to trap a mouse in my office and it went terribly awry. Only the poor little guy's leg was caught. I tried to release him into the woods behind our building, but he didn't want to leave the box we'd put him in. So we took him to the wildlife center, where they accepted him with no hesitation, with as much care as they would a grander animal. Alas, he didn't make it, but I was so grateful to be able to take him somewhere that would give him a chance.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Susan Boyle's makeover

From what I've read, half the world is up in arms over Susan Boyle's recent makeover. Detractors say she is losing her "ugly duckling appeal," and risks becoming too polished. I say she looks fantastic, and more power to her! All she did was cut and dye her hair, trim her brows, and get a new outfit. It's not like she got lipo and a fake tan, people. She still looks like a "normal" person. Just a bit more fashionable. Trust me, if you've seen any interviews with her, you know--stylish locks will not strip away her somewhat awkward, down to earth personality.


  • I am set to end the week having answered the most tech support calls in the department. Go me!
  • Comet was up at 3:30 hurling...but not just his usual one time. There was nothing for him to bring up. Poor baby. I think he might be working on a hairball. I hadn't been sleeping well anyway so I just got up and went online. Yay for buying memory cards on New Egg at 4 in the morning!
  • I am not bringing my laptop to Australia so I want to make sure I don't run out of space on my camera. I should be set for 5,000 photos with 2 8GB cards. The one I bought this morning was actually a micro SD and included an adapter AND a USB reader for about 20 bucks. This is in stark contrast to the memory stick duo I was forced to purchase in Florence, Italy in 2004...128 MB for over $100. We have come so far.
  • I have been listening to the audio book In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson on my drive to and from work lately. It is so enlightening and funny! I am beside myself with anticipation and excitement for my upcoming trip. It is going to be too fabulous for words. That I get to spend a few days in L.A. before and after is serious icing on the cake. I cannot wait for the Dario's buffet I come, cheese enchiladas! And that I will have 3 solid weeks with my BFF Nicole is like a giant scoop of ice cream on top of that piece of iced cake!
  • On Wednesday, I went to a "mixer" for the newly formed UCSD alumni chapter of the Triangle. We all unanimously agreed that there is NO good Mexican food to be found here.
  • It is going to be in the 90's here this weekend. Yikes. I'm hoping to see the new Disney movie Earth. It should be quite the spectacle.
  • At work, my manager is making having us read Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. I find the book to be, for the most part, repugnant. It is an easy read and has many illustrative anecdotes, but it is basically a user manual for manipulating people. The author is always reinforcing that you must be genuine about this or that. If you genuinely cared about other people, you would not need a book to tell you how to get friends. And you certainly would not actively be seeking to influence them. My rancor towards this book has brought out a negative tone in me that I don't like. I've tried to just stay mum but now I am in charge of leading the (online) discussion. Hmph.
  • Oh, I never did write about Easter, did I? I was originally going to be in Washington, DC but that fell through, so I ended up picking up Cassidy and having her Thursday and Friday night. Friday we went to Pullen Park here in Raleigh and she had so much fun riding the train, the boats, and the carousel.

Friday evening we decorated Easter eggs.

Sunday was the Easter egg hunt...of the plastic, candy-filled variety, not the chicken embryo variety. I still get a rush when I see an egg peeking out from its hiding spot, even though I helped fill and hide them. That girl ended up with enough candy for 20 kids. We helped her eat it though. :)