Thursday, March 29

Study break

Last weekend I went with a friend to a cheese-making workshop at a suburban goat farm just north of Nashville. Not only did we learn how to make chevre and mozzarella, we got to feed a week-old kid and hang out with a few others that were just days old:

Don't let the perspective fool you: this goat is indeed just about the same size as this chicken.

Monday, March 26

Number 10

A little while ago we started collecting string art that we found in thrift stores or estate sales. Behold the handily-labeled tenth:
Seriously, I'm not sure we would have definitely known it was a teardrop without the label...

Sunday, March 25


Flea market jar + perfect plant = Edison-esque terrarium. Hopefully it flowers!

Friday, March 23

Rejection, surgery, recovery.  It all seems so long ago now.

Changes afoot: I decided early on that being a professional arborist is not a career I especially enjoy, since working with people (especially city folk) and the environment is what enlivens me. A few weeks ago I saw an ad for an educator position at Bartram's Garden, and I applied, interviewed, and got the job. The tricky part is that it is a part-time/seasonal position, so I was super-excited to be doing the work that I enjoy but freaking out on the inside about finances. But when I finally talked to my current boss about returning to arborist work, I proposed coming back part-time so that I could still make enough money to keep our lil' ship afloat. He was fine with the idea, and so for the next few months I will be working every day. That's right: 7days a week. Ouch. But some work "days" are only a few hours long, so I think I'll be able to handle it.  I hope, anyway.  The work at Bartram's is fun, the people are amazing, and it mostly doesn't feel like work. But before I launch into my new occupation, here's what I've been doing with myself:

I went to Nashville for two weeks, during which I strolled around the Opryland Hotel Atrium with the fam.

Sharon and I came back to Philadelphia, where among other things we checked out the maple sugar festival at Fox Chase Farm. This horse was the best part.

We went across the mighty Delaware River into Jersey and explored a park. A park with a pipe.

I bought a really great watch that apparently is so reliable and easy to use that it has a steady fan base in the IED-making crowd. That's what Amazon said, anyway; I have no idea if it's true. Obviously.

I went on a Zoe-Strauss-billboard-viewing ride with Trophy Bikes.

I went to the Blueberry Capitol of the World (Hammonton, NJ) to get our lonely blueberry bush some friends. At $5 a piece, and a nice drive to boot, we're in.  

I walked around Bartram's Garden and familiarized myself with the plants.  Can't wait for this one!

I got a laser pointer to point out tree branches and such.

And last but not least, I got cleared from the doctor to go back to work.  Here goes!

Weekends and other adventures.

Oops, this post has been malingering in the drafts folder instead of being out and about...

Sharon and I have had some wonderful adventures together in Nashville over the past 10 days or so. Having a car in this sprawling city opens a lot of options not available if you are limited to a bicycle. (Well, one can bike pretty far, but you know what I mean).  Sharon's younger brother and his wife came to visit this past weekend. Sharon is a master planner of fun times and she did not disappoint this past weekend.

First, she took us on a snipe hunt -- err, a search for mating woodcocks at Bells Bend Park. Look at what we could have found but didn't:

Then we went to the Frist Museum in downtown Nashville, where we saw this very life-like sculpture in their new exhibition:

This was followed by ice cream and honky-tonks.

The following day we made french toast, then went to a huge flea market at the Nashville fairgrounds which only happens once a month. Sharon found a cool hat and I a weird padlock:

It has no opening for a traditional key. Instead, a magnetized key is placed alongside the lock and it either repels or attracts the locking pins inside into place to let the lock open.  I, however, do not have the key, but for $1 I got a good story and the chance to pick a very unique kind of lock.

After the flea market, we swung through the Goodwill Bins (quite possibly the most competitive thrift store experience ever), and then sated our super-hunger with delectable Chinese food. Fully nourished, we went over to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel where they have 3 indoor atria, each larger than the last, complete with rivers, waterfalls, fountains, palm trees, and plenty of tropical ornamental plants everywhere. If you're ever in need of a simulated tropical paradise in the middle of winter, then step right up!  Just take a look at this place, it's crazy:

Sunday we set off towards the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace Parkway to eat at the famous Loveless Cafe.  This is a southern biscuits-and-gravy kind of place, and a plate of biscuits comes to every table for you to snack on while you wait. ( I consider myself somewhat of a breakfast snob, though, so I was not overly impressed with their version of homefries and my taste of Sharon's omelette was not up to the grade-AA omelette that I'm accustomed to at Honey's). Overall, it was good, but I'm not aching to go back any time soon. Afterward we stopped by Antique Archaeology, a store famous for its owners who star in American Pickers.  We swung through the store fairly quickly (t-shirts, stickers, and expensive antiques) and made our way to the Vanderbilt area, where we walked over to the Parthenon replica then had a mid-afternoon treat  of gourmet popsicles at Las Paletas.

Afterwards we parted ways with the younger set -- they headed back to Knoxville, and we facilitated a workshop on seed-saving.  It was a fun weekend filled with long walks and good talks.

Thursday we start driving north to Philadelphia for spring break (or as it's better known, SPRING BREAK!!!)!

Thursday, February 9


Finally, after a few weeks of no work before my surgery I can now start on the 6-8 weeks of no work for post-surgery recovery.  It's been mostly what you would expect (pain, soreness, immobility, etc.) with a little surprise gift of a sore throat from the breathing tube that goes along with surgery (surprise to me).  I've been watching lots of movies but I think it may be time to start reading a book.  Danny read 1Q84 a little while ago and it's in the house here somewhere, it got good reviews and it may just take me all of the 6-8 weeks to read the 944 pages.   I picked up a new hobby since Christmas (locksport) and have picked a Master padlock a few times and a cheap door lock a few times.  The nice thing about the door lock is that I can take it apart and re-pin the lock to make it easier for a beginner like myself and progressively add more pins to make it more difficult.  So, my next project is to make my own pick.  I want a bogota pick and to make them you need a very thin/strong/springy piece of steel.  One of the most common free ways to get these is to look for street sweeper bristles on the road that had broken off the sweeper.  Last week riding my bike I found a few, so now I just need to print out a template and file down my bristle into a pick.  So, I'll be keeping busy reading big Japanese books and crafting my own lock picks like every other guy out there recovering from hernia surgery.

Monday, February 6


So, after a nice weekend (if not a little stressful) of interviewing and presenting I found out today that I was not accepted into the graduate program I applied for.  And to think I held off putting it on this blog specifically so that I wouldn't have to let everyone know that I got rejected.  Anyhow, I hope through all of this I come out "stronger", but I feel like I don't need any more of these strengthening experiences.  Well, not much more to say about that, thanks for all of your encouragement, I can always re-apply next year.