Things I learned…recently

It’s been a while since I have taken the time to sit down and write one of these blog posts.  It’s not that I haven’t learned anything, it’s just that I have a case of the lazies.

It happens.

So, what have I learned?

I learned…

…that field geology is not my thing.

This past semester I took a historical geology class to fulfill a science requirement.  It was an interesting class, challenging and time-consuming.  I learned a lot and that’s always a good thing.  The course was geared toward geology majors, and I was a little apprehensive about that at first, but my fear proved unfounded.

I rocked that class.

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However, one of the things my professor required for course completion was a bit of field work.  He believes that he cannot allow his students to walk away from historical geology without at least one day in the field – mud covered rock hammer in one hand, chunk of fossil-filled platy limestone in the other.

Okay.  No big deal.  I can do that.  Dig around in the dirt for an afternoon, maybe find a fossil or two, identify an unconformity or a fault, take a strike-dip measurement.  Not my favorite things, but whatever.

I did a little research on the site where we were to do our field work.  It’s a place on the North Sulphur River known to contain Cretaceous period fossils.  According to a few maps, the site boasts a park of sorts with an outbuilding and concrete stairs leading down the steep river embankment.  Okay, no big deal.  I can do that.

The day of the excursion was rainy, a chance of severe weather loomed, but we went anyway.  We are geologist, a little thing like a tornado watch isn’t going to scare us – or so our professor told us.  The site was in the backwoods of nowhere, down an overgrown two lane farm to market road – and not where we thought it was.  There was no outbuilding, and there were no stairs, but there was a trail – or so our professor told us.

Now, I have to tell you, my professor is an older man – late sixties, almost seventy, but he is the most energetic person I’ve ever met.  If Indiana Jones were a geologist, he would be my professor.  He is also a dirty rotten liar.  There was no trail, only a runoff path that spilled down a sixty degree drop through overgrown brush and misshapen trees into the river bed thirty feet below.

Sixty degree drop; thirty feet below. 

Oh.  Did I mention it was raining?  Yeah, so the ground had turned to slick as snot clay mud.   You know that stuff, right?  It might as well have been a sheet of ice.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am not an outdoorsy person, and the whole scenario was so far out of my comfort zone, I felt like I might drown in my own anxiety.  That nagging voice of reason in my head was doing his best Lost in Space impression, “Danger, Will Robinson.  Danger.”  But I ignored him.  After all, I have expanded my horizons in recent years, ventured into uncharted territory, overcome a few of my more benign phobias.  I could do it.  

Right?

Right.  So, I took a deep breath, sat down on my butt and did the crab crawl –  inch by inch, down into that fucking river bed.   I spent two hours trudging through mud so thick it stuck the bottom of my shoes (I grew two inches) and caked the hem of my jeans.   I foraged for fossils, took a strike-dip measurement, almost dropped my compass into a mud puddle, and suffered the indignity of a really bad hair day.

Then I clawed my way back out, up thirty feet (at a staggering sixty degree incline) inch by fucking agonizing inch.

Success!

And it only took three weeks for all the cuts and bruises to heal.  Bonus.

The experience ranks right up there with whale watching from an inflatable raft in the middle of the churning Pacific.  I’m proud of myself for doing it, but I will never, ever do it again.  Ever.

…that one of my new favorite things to do is sit in a bookstore coffee shop with my daughter sipping a cold frappy, nibbling a calorie heavy treat, and reading a good book.

…that sometimes blog spam is amusing.  I normally don’t pay much attention to it – just hit the delete button and move on.  But today I found this attached to one of my reading challenge entries:

Thats just because youre still mad at him for winning the starting RF job over your man-crush last April.

It’s like I’m in a fight with someone and I didn’t even know it.  Such drama.

…that the 10 hour drive to South Padre Island is so much more fun than the 11 hour drive home.

…that we have entered that point in tennis season where I am again forced to question my long-standing Federer allegiance.  I can forgive a loss at the Australian Open to Murray, but a loss on clay to Tsonga in the quarterfinals?  I’m at the breaking point…seriously.  If Federer doesn’t step up on the grass in London, I’m out.  I mean it.  For real this time.

that there is a Great White shark lurking just off the coast of Cape Cod.    Note to self:  no beach excursions during future trips north to visit my Boston peeps.

…that there is an Atlantic Green sea turtle named Allison at Sea Turtle, Inc. on South Padre Island with a prosthetic flipper (think boat rudder, only for a turtle) to help her swim.  Go read about her – and all of the good work this amazing organization does – (here).

…that I will take a Stats class over Art Appreciation any day of the week.   I had two objectives going into this summer – knock out a couple of required courses I have put off because I know they will suck and get a tan.  Well, it’s only a few weeks in and I’ve already failed.  No, my tan looks great, but I seem to have hit a hurdle with that other thing.  It turns out I’d rather jab a stick into my eye than sit through 10 weeks of art appreciation, and its endless string of mindless “art” projects and presentations.  I couldn’t drop it fast enough.  Of course, now I have to take an extra class in the fall to make up for it, but I think art history will suit me much better.  I sure hope so.  On a side note, Stats is going to work out just fine.  Who’d have thought?

…and last but not least, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by my sweet daughter and her band awards.  I’m not proud or anything…

Chihuly…one last time

On December 31, 2012, the Chihuly exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden will close.  Last Sunday, I took advantage of an unusually warm day, and schlepped into the city to take in the magic one last time.

I’ve seen the exhibit several times since its opening in May, and I keep coming back one particular piece – Float Boat.  I simply love it.  Each time I go, I try to capture the glory of it in a different way.  I am always amazed by the boldness of the colors and the way they dance across the water.  I could spend hours sitting and staring at this work and never see everything there is to be seen.

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Of course, my second favorite piece is the water lilies.  I love they way the white glass contrasts with its surroundings.

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I’m sad to see Chihuly go.  It will be missed.

Flower Power

Just a few shots of a pink daisy I thought was rather pretty.  Enjoy.

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Chihuly and more

It was a hot and steamy weekend…

…okay.  Just kidding. 

I schlepped down into the city for the second weekend in a row.  If you read last Sunday’s entry, you know that this is a rarity for me.  I blame my friend, Bill.  He went to the Dallas Arboretum a few days ago and posted some great pictures to his blog.  I love the arboretum, and I am fascinated by the Chihuly exhibit that is currently on display though out the gardens.  So, I decided to braved the 100+ degree temperatures on Saturday.  I spent about three hours baking in the sun and taking lots of pictures.  Here are a few of my favorites:

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a red dragonfly before.IMG_6621

 

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I don’t know the species, but this guy was very vocal and not at all happy to have me wondering around beneath his tree.IMG_6725

Chihuly.  I love this exhibit and this piece, in particular.  I’ve tried three times to photograph it.  Unsuccessfully.  This time was different.  I experimented a lot more with my manual settings.  I think it also helped that it was a virtual ghost town and I was able to take my time.  IMG_6878

I almost didn’t share this one.  I wanted to keep it all for myself.  But then, it was my favorite of the day, so how could I not share?.IMG_6881

 

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This squirrel was on to something.IMG_7050

Things I learned this week…

“Resistance is not a peripheral opponent.  Resistance arises from within.  It is self-generated and self-perpetuated.  Resistance is the enemy within.”  – The War of Art:  Winning the Inner Creative Battle – Steven Pressfield

“Resistance has no strength of its own.  Every ounce of juice it possesses comes from us.  We feed it with power by our fear of it.  Master that fear and we conquer Resistance.” – The War of Art:  Winning the Inner Creative Battle – Steven Pressfield

This week I learned…

…that if I want to succeed at this writing business, I need to suck it up and just do it.  My fellow WC-er Bill Chance turned me onto a book by Steven Pressfield called The War of Art.  Absolute brilliance.

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…that discovering a new thing, no matter how small and insignificant, can really change my whole outlook.  This week I discovered how to make comment notations is my Word documents.

What?

You’ve been doing it for years?

Nobody likes a braggart.

This is eye-opening to me because I struggle with the  need to produce perfection.  I think it comes from my profession.  I am a paralegal.  When I write, it needs to be damn near perfect before I hand it over the my attorney for review.  Otherwise, I look like a complete moron, and they wonder why it is that they are paying me good money for crap they have to rewrite.  Unfortunately, this bleeds over into my personal writing.  It’s a habit I have vowed to break – not at work, at home.  These little notations help me tag something that needs review, ask myself questions, offer suggestions, and move on.  By getting it out, even if the issue is not resolved, I am free to continue.

…that meeting my first weekly writing goal within two days of making it was a great feeling.  Maybe I should up the ante.  Or maybe I should just wait and see how next week goes, and the week after that.

…that the holidays are finally over.  Finally.  I can file them away under “done” and move on to the next thing.   Though, I don’t really have much to complain about this year.  I had one of the most laid-back, stress-free holidays ever.  I can only think of a handful of instances when I seriously contemplated body dumping sites and weighed the likelihood of a criminal conviction over a temporary insanity plea.  That might be a record for me.  Usually, during the holidays, I fantasize about having a Bond car with a machine gun and rocket launchers.  Maybe I am mellowing.   Yeah, what are the odds of that?  Maybe I just had an off-year.  Maybe I should go book my December Caribbean trip now.  You know, just for peace of mind.

…that aside from the fever, ringing in the New Year from the warm, cozy comfort of my bed was fabulous.  I spent New Year’s Eve battling a nasty little cold and watching a Jason Bourne marathon on one of those “not in HD” channels.  I should try that again next year – well, minus the fever.   I might even splurge and dig out the DVDs.

…that on January 6, 1540, Anne of Cleves married England’s Henry VIII.  It didn’t work out too well for them, but at least she didn’t lose her head.  On January 6, 1996, I married the love of my life.   So far, so good.   At least I think so.  He does keeps telling me I’m no picnic to live with; that I’m snarky, moody, and unreasonable.  I’ve no idea what he’s talking about.

…that the Kardashians have entered the building – or more accurately – the city of Dallas.  Hold on to your hats, folks.  We now have ourselves a couple of genuine Hollywood “celebrities” in our midst, and they are taking the metroplex by storm.  Screw substantive news, or anything else that might enlighten or educate our feeble minds.  We are now to be subjected to a chronology of every breath they take, every move they make, every vow they break…

****Warning – Pet Peeve of the week****

…that with the New Year, my gym has been inundated by folks who have vowed to get in shape.  That’s great.  Awesome, even.  I applaud anyone out there willing to get fit the old-fashioned way – by sweating.  What I don’t applaud are the newbies with no manners.  I realize that there are those among us who believe their time more valuable; that waiting their turn is a foreign concept.  However, I will not be cowed by the intimidation tactics of others.   I will be done with my reps when I’m done.  Not before.  Staring at me will not make me move on.  Asking me how many reps I have left will only motivate me to do more, at a slower pace.   I can’t wait until February.  By then, they will have either learned a little gym etiquette or fallen off of the fitness wagon.  I hope, or else I might need to find myself a good criminal lawyer.

…and last but not least – this week’s awww moment is brought to you by this prehensile tailed porcupine.  Look at that face.  Don’t you just wanna hug him?