Friday, March 26, 2010

A weekend off

I thought things would get a bit calmer once I turned in my dissertation, but I'm finding plenty of things that need to get done in the four weeks before I leave Maryland. So I'm a bit late posting these photos from last weekend.

To celebrate finishing my dissertation, I took a day off. We had brunch with friends, and then checked out the terrific Tacoma Park farmer's market. At this point, I'm just a tiny bit annoyed when I discover new and wonderful places in DC. It feels like Fate is just rubbing it in that I'm leaving DC, which I love so much. In spite of this, there were many great finds, which led to our celebratory dinner that night:

Baby greens with apples and toasted hazelnuts.

Daffodils, champagne, and homemade pappardelle with morels and cream sauce.

We also spent part of the afternoon at the U.S. Botanical Garden, which was having an orchid exhibit. The Botanical Garden is on the grounds of the Capitol, and whole area was just filled with protesters and counter-protesters. It was a bit confusing, because the protesters were supporting immigration reform, and the counter-protesters were advocating against the health care bill, but everyone found something to yell about. (This was the afternoon when some of tea party protesters spit on a Congressman.) And in the midst of all of it, I waxed nostalgic about how much I was going to miss it all.

And while I've been working on a dissertation, Andrew's been doing more experimental physics. He built a manometer, show to the left, which compares pressures. He needed to tune the motorcycle carburetors so that they all had the same amount of vacuum. In the picture, you can see four tubes, which are really two tubes, each U-shaped. They are partially filled with colored fluid, and then each end of the tube is hooked up to one carburetor. The vacuum is then adjusted until the levels are equal. Who knew he could do such practical physics?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Near the end

I'm to the point where I only leave my desk to eat and sleep. In fact, a coworker recently suggested that if I napped at my desk, preferably with my hands on the keyboard, I could save even more time. But I must draw the line somewhere, I think.

I find myself depending even more than usual on little treats to reward myself. I am especially grateful for having such a pleasant working space. I enjoy looking out my sunny window all day long, and at the tree full of red blossoms which is just outside that window. There's a vase of multi-colored roses sitting on my desk. I drink a lot of tea, and I've been savoring my chocolate covered almonds covered in sugar and sea salt. But mainly I've been dreaming of the vacation we'll be taking when this is all over. I know that education should be its own reward, but right now I can't think of a better reward than the eighteen days we'll spend in Stafford (England), Amsterdam, and Munich.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A comedy of errors

Things are falling apart all around me, and since Andrew is on "deal with all things non-thesis" duty, he's had to put out a lot of fires. (Um, there haven't been any actual fires so far. I guess things could be worse.)

First, he had to take the cat to the vet for her annual check-up. She was more frightened than usual, and her bladder couldn't handle the strain. Now the car smells like an outhouse, and it's going to take several cleaning treatments to get it cleaned up. Next, the car's fan quit working, which meant we were driving in a car that smelled like pee. Without a ventilation fan. With the windows closed, because it was pouring rain. This morning he went out (in the rain) to repair the fan, and discovered that the storm had blown over the motorcycle in the night. This broke the motorcycle battery and spilled battery acid everywhere.

Suddenly I don't have time to do anything else besides write.

Monday, March 08, 2010

February in pictures

There was lots of snow, which was not appreciated by the cat.
Andrew shoveled. I shoveled. The landlord shoveled. Then I got tired and left the rest of the shoveling for Andrew.
Andrew had a birthday, and asked for a heart attack. At least, that's what I assumed he wanted, because he requested macaroni and cheese and a chocolate cheesecake for his birthday dinner.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Gray and gloomy

The mood is subdued at Chez Styling. The weather has been gray and overcast for the past few days. While I appreciate the little taste of what is regular Cleveland weather, I'm a bit tired of looking out at the dreary sky while I write. On top of that, Andrew has had a cold for the past few days. It's nothing life-threatening, but it's bad enough that he cancelled a meeting, and I've never seen that happen before. The specter of becoming ill while in the final stages of writing haunts me, so our house has been divided into semi-permeable quarantine zones: Andrew is quarantined to the living room and I spend almost all my time in the bedroom. The cat has roaming privileges.

One cheery aspect of my day is the bunch of pink tulips I bought to put at my writing desk. For years I've kept fresh flowers on my dining room table. I can recall the exact moment I visited an acquaintance's house and realized fresh flowers were something you were allowed to have all the time, not just on special occasions. Now I may need to add to my shopping list and regularly buy a bunch for my desk as well. After all, I sit here eight hours a day, which means only a few cents per hour of flower enjoyment.

These pink tulips are also a reminder that I've been thinking about pink. I've had a strong dislike for the color since my teens. Recently I read an article on the history of gender associations and color. I was surprised to learn that as recently as the last century, many people saw pink as a boy's color (a watered-down version of the masculine red) and blue as a girl's color (more flattering to their delicate skin tones). While I'm still unsettled by the need to brand almost all children's toys and clothing as either belonging to either boys or girls, I have been reminded that my distaste is tied to (what feels like to me) excessive gender division. The color itself is can be separated from the meanings we have attached it. So maybe I'll try on some rose-colored glasses.