Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Endings and Beginnings

In general, I am always happy to see February come to a close. It means spring is that much closer.
This February I am also pleased to see the conclusion of a project I started last October: the organizing and metadata entry for my entire digital photo collection. I had a lot of duplicates, but even weeding them out the total was over 30,000 images. So far. I plan to take a lot, lot more.
I have spent many an hour in the evening watching TV in the background while I sorted photographs on my laptop. It's become routine, soothing. I almost miss it, even though I am very grateful to have the project done- and all my photos burned on backup DVDs (very important to have backups, lots and lots of backups.)
My new project will be (re)starting my book manuscript in a serious, businesslike way. I expect that will keep me occupied for many months. In fact, I look forward to it.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Valentine Mystery

For Valentine's Day, I had purchased a pot of tulips for myself (and then weakened and also bought some chocolates.) I brought cookies and candy for my two classes, and wore a red sweater that day, and I got several phone calls and a valentine in the mail from Mom. So I was feeling quite happy and loved.
Then, on the morning of the 15th, I got up at 5 am to go to the temple, and as I was pulling out of the garage I spotted something on my doorstep. (I can see my doorstep best when I leave, but not as well when I pull in.) Aha, thinks I, someone has left a Valentine goody on my doorstep! So I parked the car and went over to investigate. (You can read the labels on the valentines if you enlarge the picture.)
I think I picked up the snake first. I was absolutely delighted, and somewhat puzzled. Who knew me well enough to remember my python's name? Probably not my visiting teachers. Next, I looked at the bag of chocolates, and my puzzlement deepened. Not only did I not recognize the handwriting, the "name" of the giver is a joke that very few people know. It must be Emily, thinks I, and she always gets up early. So I called her on her mobile phone. A very sleepy voice answered me (oops) and when I thanked her for the valentines, she claimed she had nothing to do with it. Ha, ha, thinks I; enough is enough, stop pretending. No, really, she didn't know who the giver was.
It took me awhile to believe her, but then I thought of another candidate. Sarah, who has contacts in Utah. I hadn't thought of her at first because we spoke on the phone and she was such a sly boots, she never even hinted. (I would have hinted. I can't keep secrets like that.) But when I called her later in the evening, she finally solved the mystery for me: she had commissioned Jenilyn to bring me a surprise valentine!
What a wonderful family and friends I have!
I especially LOVE that plastic snake!!

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Very Useful Shapka

This is Mortimer, curled up in my shapka. A shapka is one of those tall funny Russian fur hats with ear flaps. Usually the ear flaps are tied up, unless it is really, really cold. Wearing a shapka is unusual enough in the USA without the ear flaps.

But I don't care about fashion. I love my shapka. It made me very happy this weekend when I went camping with the OAC (that would be the Outdoor Adventure Club; I am one of the faculty advisors, and our presence is necessary for the university to sanction an overnight trip.) We went up Provo Canyon and the original plan was to build snow caves. Fortunately for me, because I detest digging caves, it was too warm for caves and so we simply tent camped by a river. It was "warm" by winter standards (probably not any colder than 30 degrees overnight) but I don't like to be cold, especially when I sleep.
So I have ways of dealing with the cold: double ground pads, double sleeping bags, a nice fire outside, hot water bottles inside the tent, and of course, my shapka. I wore it to sleep in and it kept me toasty, toasty warm all night long.
Why is it so warm? It is made of FUR. Forget all the clever modern breathable synthetic fabrics. If it keeps the bunnies warm, it will keep ME warm.
The next day was lovely. There wasn't more than a foot of snow and it was all compacted, snow-cone texture snow, and so I dispensed with my snowshoes and just hiked in my furry winter boots. (Fake fur, alas, but still helpfully warm.)
It was a wonderful winter outing!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Family dinner

One thing about living alone, it's a real treat when family come over for dinner.

We had a baked potato bar with tons of toppings: sour cream, cheese, green onions, green chiles, bacon, mushrooms, broccoli. And we had salmon, too! It was a feast.

For dessert, a cake from the Salt Lake Bakery we love so much- celebration of my having turned in my article for _The Art Bulletin._ Also, it was Great-Grandpa Cyrus Stanford's 150th birthday.