Oregon Garden...in April

No two days are the same in one garden.  ~Hugh Johnson

One of my first weekend adventures after arriving in Oregon was to visit the Oregon Garden.(Read that post here). This past weekend (after I got back from Fresno, but before the family arrived Saturday night) I made a second visit, this time with my new friend Jennifer. I have been told I need to see the garden during all seasons (I skipped winter - too wet and too cold for me). I plan to go back sometime in the next 6 weeks. This past weekend the garden was at the point where bulbs were up and crabapples and flowering cherry trees were blooming, but most things were just starting to leaf out. It warrants a return visit. I snapped some photos.

I was completely obsessed by the snake skin pattern on the blooms. I have never seen anything like it.
There were hellebores everywhere.

 A happy little bear-shaped shrub to mark the entry to the Children's garden.
I am a sucker for a fern... I just love the way they unfurl....
  Obsessed I tell you. If you click on this one and make it larger, you will see the pattern. Love it.
Afterwards, we had lunch at the Creekside Cafe in Silverton, OR, and stopped by The Chocolate Box for a snack. I had a peanut butter cake ball (delicious), but it wasn't as cute as these little guys... so I took their picture.

Wordless Wednesday (A day late)

 I am glad they came all the way to Oregon to text while playing on their ipod and dirt bike race on my laptop see their Aunt Misty.



The Western Region AAAE Conference was held in Fresno April 20-22. Yup, Fresno. It was actually my first trip to California and it almost didn't happen. Here's the story:

I met up in Corvallis with my colleagues (4 of us total) at 6am to drive to Portland to catch our flight. I drove the 2 hours. We parked. We caught a shuttle. We made it to the check in kiosk and everyone successfully checked in - except me. No matter what approach I took with the machine (entering my name, confirmation number, flight number, swiping a credit card) nothing was finding my reservation. It kept telling me to see the ticket agent. I gave up and stood in line and saw a ticket agent - Martha was her name. Martha was convinced (like me) that it must be a glitch with the kiosk. She looked me up. No reservation. Martha asked me if I was sure I was traveling on the correct day. I confirmed that not only was this the correct day, everyone else in my party (booked on the same day by the same travel agent) had already checked in and were waiting on me so we could clear security together. She began working on the phone. She called the travel agent (which was, but is no longer, the University's travel). The problem: their reservations were confirmed by our office manager, mine was cancelled (an apparent oversight). Martha was ready to re-book me when a new problem surfaced: that flight was now full.

She told my group to go on without me. They left - blissfully together. Martha told me to go sit in the corner while she went to work (in a back room) on getting me to Fresno. Altogether, I stood or sat at the ticket counter for about 45 minutes. Martha was able to make it happen - on a different airline and thru Salt Lake City. However, I arrived only 35 minutes after the rest of my group. Martha from Alaska Airlines in Portland was my hero.

The conference was great. There was a chance to soak up some California sunshine between sessions. There was a chance to catch up with friends, mentors, and colleagues, and meet a new crop of grad students. There was the chance to consume research papers and posters. There were business meetings. There was this one "free" prime rib dinner that I could have done without. There was a chance to drink :-) and forget about said dinner...And, apparently after some drinks, there was the chance to get myself appointed to a committee.

And, I get to do it all again next month in Idaho at the National Meeting of AAAE.

Currently Enjoying: Having family in town
Currently Anticipating: A trip to Crater Lake, Silver Falls and Portland
Currently Procrastinating: ALE reviews


Happy Birthday Emily

April 29th will be the third birthday of my niece Emily Ann - my brother's oldest daughter. I haven't been around for Emily's birthday yet. In fact, I got a voice mail during my ANOVA class to let me know she had been born. (My little brother was stationed at Ft. Drum at the time so the whole family was at a distance for that one). Late April is a tough time on the academic calendar, but perhaps one day I will be around to celebrate her birth. Until then, I mail presents and hope that she remembers me the next time I see her. 

I think my favorite thing about Emily is her range of faces. You always know what this child is thinking/feeling because it is all over her face. I can relate. See some of my favorites (of those captured on film) in the collage below (click on it to make it larger). Happy Birthday Emily Ann!


This morning I thought I my living room was on fire!

So I woke up this morning and thought my living room was on fire. Let me explain. I sleep in a very dark room. I have blackout curtains (to keep the lighted parking lot out of my room). I can't see my hand in front of my face. However, I don't have curtains in the living room... just mini-blinds. I can see down the curved hallway into the entryway, which connects to the living room. When I woke up this morning, the only thing I could see in that hallway was an orange glow. I got out of bed, walking towards the living room, wondering where this strange light could be coming from - Was my living room on fire? Turns out, it was the sun.

My living room faces east and we were having a cloud-free, fire orange sunrise. It was such a surprise and shock to the system that my sleepy brain couldn't process. It has been awhile since I enjoyed that view. You see, if I didn't mention, it rains here. A lot. I mean, for almost 6 months. The sun was a welcome, if somewhat odd, sight.

Turns out, without the clouds to hold the heat in at night, it gets cold here! I went to work in short sleeves (fooled by the orange light in my living room). It was a whopping 37 degrees outside as I left for work. However, the sun remained around almost all day and did its best to warm up Corvallis.

Now I just have to find where I packed away those sunglasses back in October.

Currently Anticipating: A trip to Fresno, catching up with friends and mentors, a walk around the Oregon Garden, and the arrival of my sister, niece and nephew (all in the next 5 days)!
Currently Enjoying: Tom Petty's Angel Dream #2 and Cross Canadian Ragweed's Soul Gravy CD
Currently Dreading: an NSF grant deadline
Currently Watching: no TV... gave it up for Holy Week!


Pet Peeves

I thought I would write about something everyone can relate to: Pet Peeves. You know, those things that seems small, but, for whatever reason, get under your skin and annoy you.

Here is my list:

  • Overly amorous church-going couples (not the time or the place!)
  • Baby talk
  • Saying "like" too much
  • People who do not take off those bluetooth headsets... ever!
  • Typos
  • People who invade my personal space
  • People who smell of body odor
  • People who constantly sniffle - blow your nose already
  • "One-uppers"
  • Finding inaccurate usage of its/it's or they're/their/there or your/you're
  • Feet shufflers (those people who will not pick up their feet to walk)
  • "Toilet seat tinklers"
  • People who leave a long voicemail and only give their number once at the end so you have to listen to it over and over to get the number
  • The noise styrofoam makes when it rubs on something
  • "Over-the-shoulder readers"
  • "Over-perfumers"
  • PeOpLe WhO tYpE LiKe tHiS
  • Emails with no subject line
  • Being stuck behind slow walkers
  • Inaccurate use of the word "literally"..."I literally almost died when I read that". Really?
  • People who enter a movie or show part-way through and expect me to catch them up.
  • ppl who uz txt spk when thy rnt chrgd by the letter
  • People who wear sunglasses inside
  • People who see a lane closure sign, drive as far as they can to the front, and then try to get over.
  • Spoon scraping on an obviously empty bowl or container (give it up already!)
  • "Open-mouth chewers"
  • Remembering part way through a shower that I forgot my towel
  • When I am given my bills, coins, and my receipt all in one handful - what am I supposed to do with that?
  • People who enter an elevator or classroom without letting those already inside leave.
  • Biting into a piece of candy expecting one flavor only to be surprised with another.
  • Couples who sit on the same side of the booth in a restaurant when no one is across from them
  • People who arrive late
  • Those infomercials where the people using the old product look ridiculously incompetent
  • "Combover-ers"
  • People who forward emails because it will make a wish come true
  • People who do not wash their hands when leaving the restroom
  • People who post a status and tell me if I don't repost, I must not care about their cause/issue
  • Broken internet links
  • People who leave their shopping cart in the middle of a parking lot
  • Rude cell phone users (this could be its own list)
  • Going to the grocery store and grabbing the one cart with a gimpy wheel
  • When I put something in a special place so I will remember it, then I forget it.

What's on your list?


The Big Easy

The Big Easy. NOLA. Nawlins. New Orleans.Call it what you will.... I will call it fabulous. I was there Friday 8th-Tuesday 12th for the American Educational Research Conference (AERA).
I had never been before and I am definitely planning on going back. Quite honestly... the city had me won over when I got off the plane at 8:30 in the morning and it was 75 degrees and sunny. I had to buy sunscreen to keep from getting a sunburn as I walked around the French Quarter.

I taught class on Thursday, went home, packed a bag, drove to Portland and flew overnight to get to NOLA. As I arrived, It was too early to check into my hotel, but time for the conference to start so I freshened up, checked my bag with the front desk and caught the shuttle to the French Quarter. Once there, I started to grasp just how big this conference really is... and it is the closest I will get to being herded like cattle. From the time I walked in the door, there were people directing me to escalators, from escalators to registration, and back out the door. I got the program (AKA the phone book) and a name badge and was standing back on the street in under 10 minutes. Now what?

Seriously, the program was about the same size as the Greater New Orleans Phone Book. I took a photo just so you would believe me. I spent a good bit of time plotting my plan of attack to see everything I wanted to see (and stalk all of the people I cite!). I may have been overly ambitious because I made myself some pretty long days. It was great.

I found Bourbon Street.

I went to Cafe Du Monde. Sipped some Cafe Au Lait and enjoy a delicious beignet:) just for my friend Claire. It was amazing. I also had pecan flavored coffee on Canal Street!

I walked around the French Quarter and had drinks with James Anderson. We bought Hand Grenades (strongest drinks in the Quarter) from this little hole-in-the-wall shop. Good times.

I Saw Jackson Square Park with its old cathedral. The "French Quarter Festival" was going on so there was live music and crowds. It was great.

Here are some other images snapped from around NOLA.

I did walk around a little on Monday morning after the crowd had left. It was hot. It was trash day and the whole area kinda smelled like hot steaming garbage.

It is still a great town! I will be back NOLA.

Wordless Wednesday 4-13-11

I am working on a blog post about my recent trip, but since I got back just in time to teach yesterday and am running off to a workshop today, for now you will have to settle for my favorite phone pic from the trip!


AERA New Orleans

Sorry for the hiatus on the blogging... I took off after class Thursday to head (overnight) to New Orleans for the American Educational Research Association's annual conference. It is, um, overwhelming. The program looks like a telephone book (seriously, it is 500 pages). I will get a post complete with details and pictures soon. For now, back to conference fun!


Only in Higher Education

I got an email the other day about volunteering to serve on campus committees. There was a list attached so that you could make a choice about where you wanted to serve. I took a picture so you wouldn't think I was making this up.

There is a Committee on Committees!

I often compare my job with my mother's (She works for the VA) and what leaves me speechless is the bureaucratic red tape and layers of management that can be encountered in both the federal government and higher education. So maybe I should have titled this post "only in higher education.... and the federal government".

Wordless Wednesday 4-6-11

Yesterday my Ag342 class participated in some leadership activities. Enjoy the camera phone pics :-)


I only need to learn 4 chords

I have been trying to learn the mandolin. It turns out I could save some time and just teach myself four chords. Enjoy!


25 Things I want

Part of the 'Conversational Skills' seminar included making a list of 25 Thing I want. This is different than a bucket list... and has less specifics than a truly developed goal list.

Here is my unedited 25:

1 Keep the blog going for a whole year
2 Be the aunt my nieces and nephews can count on
3 Visit Ireland and Australia
4 Find a fella to share my life with
5 Write a book
6 Be debt free
7 Read 35 books a year, every year
8 Finish the scrapbooks I have started
9 Stay in one job for 7 years
10 Spend a day with just my brother and my sister
11 Hit my goal weight
12 Attend an NFL game
13 Learn to play the mandolin well
14 See live music twice a year
15 Learn to cook
16 Be happy
17 See the beach once a year
18 Continue to stay connected to those folks in life I consider mentors
19 Either parent/adopt or mentor a child
20 Buy a home
21 Find a church home again
22 Ride a Double-decker bus in London
23 See a lava flow and a waterfall in the same day
24 See the Grand Canyon
25 Visit all 50 States

What item(s) on this list surprise you? What should be on this list that isn't? What's on my list that is also on your list (maybe we could do it together!)?


Thoughts I am still processing....

I have been in a Conversational Skills course (by Paul Axtell) for the last two days. Paul says insights last from 5 minutes to 5 hours and, if you don't do something about them, they are gone. You either capture it, or lose it.  In an attempt to capture some of the insights and information gained from the course, I am putting some thoughts here.

  • Either everything matters... or nothing matters.
  • Accountability is assigned. Responsibility is a context you choose.
  • Some thinking is better alone. Find 45 minutes to be alone with your thoughts everyday (no radio in the car; no TV in the background). You mind will immediately set to solving the unsolved problems. 
  • Some thinking is better done with another person listening. These include: debriefing. venting. goals setting.
  • Human nature means we are hardwired with certain responses. These include: we take almost everything personally; we have a desire to avoid being dominated; we want to look good/avoid looking bad; we want to be comfortable; we want quick answers now; we judge - to make sense of a very complicated world in quick time; we resign or settle; we have a desire to be right/ make others wrong; 
  • If you wait until the last minute to do a task, there is compromise.
  • A large project needs a milestone every 2-3 weeks. These milestones allow you to lay out the project, to check progress and the intermediate deadlines create a sense of urgency you need to make early progress.
  • Conversation has a half life of about 40 minutes. It is disappearing.
  • The future only exists in conversations.
  • Two people can dream bigger than one (the reason we need coaching - or a friend to hold us accountable).
  • Whatever future you are thinking about is less than what's possible.
  • It's all about awareness. The moment you become aware, you are back at choice.
  • A dream is just a goal that burns so brightly you don't have to write it down.
  • If your context is not sufficient, find a new one. Change your perspective... and everything else changes.
  • What if a relationship is just a series of conversations? Think about the last 5 conversations you have had with friends or family. That is what your relationship has become. If you want a different kind of relationship, change the conversation.
  • All it takes to have a relationship is to talk about something that matters. And, listen.
  • Life is not causal. It is correlational.(this one appeals to my dorky research side) Anytime you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else. Saying yes to a project at work means saying no to something in your personal life.

I hope to revisit this list later.... as I continue to chew on them.