Sunday, September 28, 2008

bad plant mommy

My myrtle plant, which currently lives at my desk in the studio, is now sharing its cachepot with tiny bright yellow mushrooms. Which look rather... manly. Rachel is now carrying the plant around the studio showing off the studly fungi.

I swear the last time I watered it the dirt was dry dry dry. ???
I need to pin up a watering schedule.

Although... the results of my bad plant wifery are entertaining everyone.

In completely unrelated news, I bought a desk chair. Because the chairs provided seem designed to wrench backs.

Edit: The tiny mushrooms grew quite large (okay, three inches tall, but that's large compared to 3/4 inch in this picture), and opened up flat mushroom caps. They are gone now.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

grumpy grad student lives below you

The people upstairs are playing Rock Band and jumping up and down, and whooping. I'm in favor of youthful enthusiasm, but when it is in full force and my walls are vibrating I tend to get grumpy. It's actually slightly better than when they play the zombie-killing video game and there are sounds of machine guns and zombie-dying sounds (Sample: raatt tat tat tat tat tat tat ARRrrrrghgurgle ARRrrrrghgurgle raat tat tat tat tat tat tat ARRRrrrrghgurrrgle... repeatedly, at 2:00 am). Also when they play Rock Band they don't tend to scream "die f***ing zombies, die... woo hoo got 'im!" When they did that, I was minutes away from thumping on the ceiling with a broom handle, no joke.

I got a letter from my landlords asking me to tell them my intentions to dwell or not to dwell for the 2009-2010 lease year, by October 15 (as is typical for Ithaca).
Despite the noisy neighbors, I would like to stay here as it is so convenient to campus, and I like my cozy home. It's just the right size and my bedroom is huge. However, I also realize I should explore my options, and try to find somewhere less expensive. I do so hate moving.

campus wildlife

This little furry creature could sit comfortably in my palm, with wiggle room. It is about 4 inches tall, no kidding. I'm not usually partial when it comes to rooting for prey versus predator. I like hawks, I hope they eat many squirrels (especially the ones that live behind my house and gnaw gnaw gnaw on walnuts all the livelong day). And there are really a lot of bunnies on campus. But this little bit of fluff is just the cutest thing, I can't help but hope it survives. Thanks to MRY for the photo. Pretty good for a cell phone pic!
Also on the cute-creature front, I finally got a photo of Mr. Tubs, the sleek and round groundhog who lives in the Wee Stinky Glen. This is not his official name, and I have not asked him what he goes by, but I see him all the time when I'm walking to and from the bookstore, so I thought he needed a moniker. He has a quite handsome chestnut colored coat. He was eating leaves (I could hear him munching) so he didn't notice me sneaking up. I suppose it could also be Mrs. Tubs, or perhaps there is more than one groundhog living in the Wee Stinky Glen, but I am going to take some license.
Now back to studying plants.

By the end of the plant walk yesterday, my whole clipboard was covered with leaves.

Monday, September 22, 2008


That was my bedtime last night. I have only had a couple of nights like that in the past, and it has been a long time since the last one. It kind of amazes me that my body can DO that--I mean the staying up VERY late and then getting up and running on adrenaline. The sleepies and the headache hit after I presented my work, right when we broke for nibbles courtesy of my studio prof. The critique went well, I think. I agreed with the criticism Deni Ruggeri offered, though I am not quite sure if I understand him totally--he basically said that though he became interested in my presentation because my narrative in describing the work and my process drew him in, my work needs to speak for itself more and be more... hmmm... was it obviously interrelated that he
meant? Did he mean that I need more signage on my work? I want to know if it is something in my process that I need to work on or is it just that I didn't have time to put in all the signage I wanted to.

On the time front, I am totally and completely going to get better at using my time wisely when working on a weeks-long project like this. The guy who sits next to me seems really good at getting steps done quickly, and also at not obsessing and presenting his work well. He's my new role model and I'm going to study what he's doing. Though not in a creepy way.

In other news, my bike is broken. It's this outdated gearing system I have. I need to research how to fix it so I can do it myself instead of spending loads of money and time.

A detail of my design plan--a stone terrace built into a steep, wooded hillside above a creek

stage 1 of any project: site analysis

Monday, September 8, 2008

studio/home, home/studio

I have now moved nearly all art supplies and class-required books to my desk space at studio, so that I have to go over there, like I did tonight, for reading or recreational painting. I prefer it that way. For one thing, I like being in studio because there are people around. For another, I want to get to know these people (those are two things--sometimes there are people around and I appreciate them being there, too, but I don't actually talk to them beyond a "Hi").
But it does mean that I am going back and forth between apt and studio a lot. However on my bike that takes about 7 minutes door to door, so not a big deal. I'll enjoy the flexibility for now since there is no snow on the ground and it is warmish weather.
When it gets cold out... let's just say I may be bringing a blanket and pillow to studio. I already plan to keep some frozen meals there.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

dogwood jelly

A success! Very tasty.

Corneliancherry Dogwood Jelly (edited 9/13/2011)
(make sure the fruit you gather is from Cornus mas. I'd advise looking it up in a plant ID book and making sure you have the right kind of tree before you embark on eating any of the fruit)
Makes 6 cups of jelly
  • 4 packed cups of Cornus mas fruit (measure after you pass whole fruit roughly through a food processor or blender)
  • 1 cup water
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 1 packet of SureJell
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • canning jars (with two-part lid)
  • Fine mesh strainer
Instructions: Set fruit and water to boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Meanwhile, boil water and wash canning jars all over with boiling water.
When fruit and water mix is at a boil, turn heat down. Measure sugar and SureJell together into a bowl, then sprinkle into fruit mixture while stirring. Stir until sugar and SureJell are fully incorporated. Add cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg. Simmer for 5 minutes more.
Strain fruit mixture through fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Press on the fruit solids to remove as much liquid as you can. Ladle jelly liquid into canning jars. To clarify the jelly further, you can use cheesecloth or a small strainer as you ladle the liquid into the canning jars at this step.
Immediately as you fill each jar, wipe each jar rim with a moist cloth kitchen towel and twist the lids just into place. Wipe the jars down of any jelly liquid which has dripped on the outside. As the jars cool, continue to gently tighten the lids. Some of the jars may seal on their own (you will hear a *pop* as they seal and the lid will be concave on top). If you want to be sure your jars seal, process in boiling water per directions in SureJell packet or your canning equipment. Be sure to refrigerate until use any jars that do not seal. Cool on the counter for 30 minutes before storing.

Friday, September 5, 2008


I am up late yet again, in the computer lab at studio. I went to bed at 2:30 am the last two nights, and I really wanted to go to bed by, say, 10:40 or so tonight. But then... then in class this afternoon we were talking about technology. Specifically, the kind of programs we're supposed to learn, and also the technology available in the lab. I felt a bit overwhelmed, and I had the idea that for the weekend homework, the first project board (a sort of distillation of my site analysis, a precursor to the actual designing) I would do some of the graphics on the computer. I thought this would help with the drowning feeling. Anyway, in my head the design included some computer-rendered elements. The photo in this post is one of the photos I used on the board. This wildflower is found all over the site.
So I designed the bones of the board in Photoshop (granted, this is a program I'm familiar with, but it's always good to practice), and now I'm waiting for the large-format printer, or "plotter," to wake up and print the damn thing already. It's called plotting, this process of printing to the monster printer. It takes about 20 minutes to print.

And... the plotter just scraped the surface of the paper while printing, so there's a noticable smudgy spot on one of my photos. Grrrrrrr.

At least, maybe, I'll get to bed by 1:00.

Edit: hmm... don't know why the time posted appears as 8:15 PM. It was actually 11:45. Odd.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


As most of my friends and family know, I really enjoy finding and eating wild edibles. Surprisingly, this has never resulted in a trip to the hospital. So I was happy to discover that the Cornell campus affords a veritable buffet. During my first week I poached some verbena from the Plantations herb garden. I had to restrain myself from picking the corn in the agricultural demonstration garden.
One of the plants I have to memorize for tomorrow's quiz on Cornus, Deutzia, and Viburnums is Cornus mas, or Corneliancherry Dogwood. This plant bears many red fruits which, I learned during class, are edible! Sadly, they are extremely tart. So I am going to make jam out of them. This time I'm going to learn from making fig jam (fig syrup, really), and add pectin. And a lot of sugar. Eating one of these darlings is like munching on an extra sour candy. Except more sour.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

better things to be doing

Yes, there are better things I could be doing with my time. Since I am now a grad student, there are many many better things I could be doing with my time. But reflection is important too.
My first full week of classes is rolling along, though it feels like today should be Friday and actually it is only the second day of the working week. Today I have class 9-10:30, as in 10:30 at night. I'm going to an AutoCAD class after classes. My Tuesdays and Thursdays are rather nutty like that. Monday Wednesday Friday I don't have class until 1:25pm, which means some valuable open time in the mornings.
My classes:
Composition & Theory (studio class)
Landscape Representation 1
History of European Landscape Architecture
Creating the Urban Eden

Urban Eden is probably my favorite class so far, because it's all about learning best plants for which sites, site assessment, and then actually designing with plants for an actual site. THEN next semester a design will be chosen from the class work and we will implement the design, for real. Right in front of Kennedy/Roberts Hall (Kennedy is where the LA studio is located). Plus memorizing lots (LOTS) of plants. I have a quiz on 22 plants this Thursday. I know some of the plants already, so that's good for me. I concentrate on the ones I don't know.
I talked to my professor for Landscape Representation, and he has agreed to advise me on an independent study, since I have some experience with landscape representation. That way I can use the class time for the independent study. Next order of business: deciding what to do for the independent study. Something I can carry through the semester and not get bored with, that will provide me with rich, challenging material. Anyway, something to ponder.
I didn't realize how much my background would help me until I started classes and really saw for myself, but I am very happy about this. It validates my studio art degree, for one thing. It makes me feel I have good dirt to grow in, for another. It also makes me feel more ready to challenge myself.