Thursday, April 30, 2009

RI Scrapbook--St. James Lutheran Church

When we moved to RI it was important to us to find a church to call home. Nicholas and I met at church and both were pretty involved with our church in Austin. We googled Lutheran churches in RI and found one that was about 5 miles away. The first time we visited, the full-time pastor was away on vacation. The sanctuary was more traditional than our church in Austin, and there were a lot fewer members. One of the first people to talk to us was from Austin. Perhaps that is what hooked us. Or perhaps, we just liked the convenience.

At St. James we have found community. Most of our friends are from church. I have a book club, people to scrapbook with, and Nicholas has a men's group he meets with once a week. I have been on the Youth Committee, taught Sunday School, organized a dinner club group, organized Family Night events, organized an Easter Brunch, and helped with the Good Friday children's service. Now I am on the Cultivating Comminity in Christ Team helping to recruit people for the team and brainstorm new ways to bring the Community of St. James together.
We will be very sad to leave our RI family at St. James but appreciate the opportunities we have had here, not to mention my B.F.F.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

In the Homestretch

In a few weeks (not that I am counting down the days or anything), Nicholas will be receiving his MFA in glass from the #1 school in the nation. There are a lot of things that he has left to do, though.

On May 14th from 6-8pm there will be an opening at the Convention Center for the Grad Thesis Show. Most of the graduating graduates will show work in this show. Nicholas will be showing some of his glass pieces and photograms that he has been making for in the darkroom. The good news is that this is the work he has been making all semester, so he doesn't have to make all new work for the show. He will have some clean-up work to do on some of his glass pieces to make sure there are no sharp edges (for safety reasons, not because he is trying to make the pieces clean and pretty). He also has to redo a few of the photograms that are horizontal prints because he wants to use only vertical prints in the show. He is responsible for delivering and installing his work in the show. He will have to build some kind of table to display his glass pieces. He also has to upload some images to the RISD 09 grad website.

On or around May 15th, Nicholas will have another show opening with one of his peers, K. An assignment for graduation is that every student has to organize a show outside of campus. This means that Nicholas had to find a location to rent for a month, pay the rent, and curate the show. Nicholas and K will have to decide the best way to display their pieces, paint any walls that need painting, build any walls they think need to be built, and arrange to be in the space so they can keep it open for the public to view. Nicholas is making all new work for this show which involves making plaster casts of his torso and lots and lots of glassblowing. The week of May 10th will probably be his most hectic with all the installing and finishing work for two shows.

And then there is his written thesis. His completed thesis has to be turn in for binding by May 20th. Before that time, he has about 2 more rounds of reviews from his 3 thesis advisors. He also has to schedule and hold one more meeting with his 3 thesis advisors.

The good news is that Nicholas will be finished May 20th, but he has a lot of work to do in the meantime. Please keep him in your prayers!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Family Night

I have been organizing Family Night events at our church for about a year. We have done a lot of really fun things: ice cream social, BBQ after Vacation Bible School, and Halloween party Hayride and Pumpkin Patch visit. Until recently, I have been organizing and orchestrating these events all by myself, which can get boring and draining. Also, I don't have kids and am not from the area so my idea box was looking pretty empty.

I finally got smart and enlisted the help of two mommy friends. (There may have been a little arm-twisting, or perhaps I just have a face you can't say no to.) Not only did they offer to help with Family Night events, but I also recruited them to my church committee! Honestly, they really couldn't say no since they see me all the time.

With three idea boxes to pull from, we planned an amazing indoor camping event. All the kids came wearing their PJ's and brought a flashlight and sleeping bag. We played fun games, went star-gazing, made fun crafts, and at yummy pretend campfires. Then we all gathered around a beautiful pretend fire on our sleeping bags, turned out the overhead lights, turned on our flashlights, and sang songs led by some very talented musicians. Everyone went home with glow bracelets, a full belly, fun crafts, and a stack of information to continue talking about as a family.

We had 40 people come to our event, which is incredible since we have around 400 members at our church. I came home exhausted and happy that all the children were at home with their parents.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Colors of Spring--Yellow

I have pretty much been taking pictures of Spring everyday. There is something new and beautiful to try to capture on my Coolpix that I try to carry the camera in my purse. The weekend was beautiful until it was around 90 degrees yesterday! We are definitely not moving back to Texas because we like the weather. There will be many pretty Spring pictures in the days and weeks to come, so enjoy!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Day at the Playground

On the first sunny Saturday (where it felt like Spring) I went to the playground with mini-Nick and mini-Liz.

They have recently looked at their baby scrapbook (that is finished through the first 3 months or so of their lives). While they were swinging they were telling me about what their mommy looked like when she had mini-Liz and mini-Nick in her tummy. "Mommy could put a cup on her tummy!"

The Buds of Spring

This is what it looked like around our apartment complex at the beginning of April.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thursday night art

Last night we went out for an evening of art openings. The first event was "A Thin Veneer" where a lot of Nicholas' glass peers showed work. It was also a costume event. I wore one of my grandmother's old dresses from the '70s. Nicholas wore one of his father's old 3-piece suits. It was fun to dress up, but a little chilly outside. We also went to the "Pretty Young Things" opening where the 1st year sculpture students exhibited work. It was a very nice evening out.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Awards of Excellence

Journey on over to Nicholas' website. On the homepage you will find a 2 minute video he created for the Awards of Excellence program. He is calling it his video thesis. He is really excited about the video and would love it if you would watch it tell him what you think of it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More Adventures on the Island

On Saturday we took Gary and Ashley all over the East Bay. We started our at the Crescent Park Carousel I already posted pictures and stories about. Then we drove through Barrington and Warren (where Nicholas and spend most of our time) to Bristol. We stopped at Colt State Park. This is the only picture I got there because I fell on those pretty rocks and banged up my shin. I am always so graceful.
Next we stopped at Newport Vineyards in Middletown for a little wine tasting. It was quite busy since it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon. We had lunch at a quaint little deli next door where our cup o' chowda was a huge bowl and came with a Texas size cookie. We finished our tour of the East Bay in Newport, the summer vacation spot of the very wealthy. We drove along "Mansion Ave." to see the summer homes of Old Money. We parked at "The Breakers," the former home of the Vanderbuilt family (of which Anderson Cooper is member) and took a stroll on the Cliff Walk. The Cliff Walk runs along the water behind the homes of the Newport Historical Society and many that aren't. Although, we found that The Breakers is the only home that you can see from the Cliff Walk thanks to all the wonderful fences. It was a beautiful day for a walk, and I love the sound of crashing waves.
We drove home and used our grill for the first time this season! Nicholas was happy he was able to use some of his grilling tools he got for Christmas.

Sunset Over Providence

Our friends Gary and Ashley came to visit us on Friday. They are from Texas and debated about when to come visit to avoid the cold. It ended up being the perfect weekend with the buds of Spring beginning to bloom and 60 and 70 degree temperatures, much nicer than the 40 degree temperatures of Easter weekend. I took them driving around Providence while Nicholas was finishing up some work in his studio.

We traveled down Benefit Street which has a lot of old homes with plaques that state when they were built and who owned the house at the time. It is unfortunate that so many of those houses have now been turned into college apartment houses where 5-10 students live. Then we walked along the canal where they were just setting up Waterfire for the season--more on that in a RI Scrapbook post. Although it doesn't look like the season will start for another month. Then we visited Nicholas' studio and took in the current show in the Graduate Student Art Gallery.

We took them to our favorite pizza place, Bob and Timmy's in hopes that we could sit ouside and because pizza is Gary's fav meal. We had dessert at the best bakery in RI, Pastiche. You may remember mention of said bakery from my birthday celebration. This time we had carrot cake, vanilla cake, coconut passion cake, and homemade strawberry shortcake (no hostess dessert shells for this delectable treat!). On our way home, we caught the sunset over the capital. We were, of course, all over that photo op.

With full bellies, we travelled back to our lovely abode. Ashley and I looked at and talked about wedding scrapbooks. We finished the evening with a rousing game of Apples to Apples which Ashley preceeded to clean up on in her very first attempt.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Things that make you go "Huh?"

We found Hope St. but it was a Dead End.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

RI Scrapbook--Crescent Park Carousel

We have a National Historic Landmark right in our tiny town of Riverside, RI. The Crescent Park Carousel was built in 1895 by Charles I.D. Looff, one of the earliest and foremost carousel designers. The Crescent Park Carousel is nationally recognized as a true masterpiece of wood sculpture. Originally built as a showcase for prospective buyers, it is the largest and most elaborate of Looff's works. The Carousel contains 62 beautifully hand carved figures and four fanciful chariots.

We have lived right down the street from this hold over from an old amusement park and finally took a ride on it yesterday. I have noticed that there are a lot of carousels all over New England, and they seem like a lot of fun. I used to enjoy riding the carousel at Six Flags.
The hand carved horses were pretty remarkable, and I would have enjoyed them more if the carousel wasn't spinning so fast! Those who are prone to motion sickness, BEWARE! It was nice that it went fast enough for kids and adults alike to enjoy the fun.

You could ride the carousel for $1.00. Although, they didn't collect tickets until the ride had already begun. I wonder if they would have kicked us off while the carousel was in motion if we didn't have tickets?

The Smells of Spring

Our friends Ashley and Gary came to visit us this weekend, so I bought lots of Spring flowers to flood our apartment with the smells of Spring.

Pretty Tulips

Breathtaking hyacinth violets

Gorgeous Irises

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sulphur Springs, TX

My youngest years were spent in Sulphur Springs, TX, a small town of less than 15,000 located about 60 miles east of Dallas. Until I was in 6th grade, I was a small town, country girl.

Sulphur Springs is the dairy capital of Texas. Some of the major employers are:
A.P. Green Refractories, Associated Milk Producers, Bell Concrete Concrete, Birthright Gas Processing, Borden Dairy Products, Burney Valve Remanufacturing, Clayton Homes, Contech
Const. Products, Crystal Feed Mill, Custom Shutters, Echo Pub. Co., Inc., Feeders Supply

When I was in elementary school, other kids would bring their pets to school for show-and-tell. Some of the ones I remember are turtles, baby pigs, snakes, rabbits, and baby chicks. My first grade teacher had pet snakes in her room. Our class (and the other first grade classes) would bring little frogs (about the size of a quarter) that you could catch in the yard to feed them. We would then all stand around and watch the snakes eat. One of the other first grade teachers had baby chicks in incubators.

I once got my picture in the paper when we had a guest speaker with a large collection of arrowheads.

There was a Dairy Queen at the end of the street where my elementary school was. We had lots of ice cream parties and special trips to Dairy Queen when we won contests like collecting canned food or something like that. All the elementary schools were named after heroes of the battle of the Alamo (Travis--mine, Bowie, Houston, and Austin).

When the area was first settled, springs of sulphur were abundant, hence the modern name, Sulphur Springs.

The courthouse is a big attraction. It was built with no clock because one of the county's father's said, "if you get up when the sun rises and go to bed when it sets, you don't need a clock."

The SW Dairy Museum and Learning Center at 1200 Houston Street contains exhibits depicting all aspects of milk production and processing, from the early 20th Century to the present.

Some of the big attractions when I lived there were: Kroger, the JCPenny cataloge ordering store, Braum's (for ice cream and burgers), the Civic Center, the cattle auctions I used to attend with my Grandpa, and the city pool. Some things they have now that they didn't then: Chili's a movie theater, potable drinking water year round, Cooper Lake where you can go swimming in the summer, a wide variety of fast food restaurants, and a Super Wal-Mart (not that I would ever shop there).

Living in a small town means that you always see people you know. It also means there are a lot of festivals. The Dairy Festival is held the second weekend in June and celebrates the dairy industry. There is dancing, craft stuff, a carnival, a variety of dairy activities and the Texas State Champion Homemade Ice Cream Freeze Off contest. The Fall Festival is held the third week of September and includes the County Fair, a beauty contest, a golf tournament, an arts and crafts fair and last but certainly not least, the World Champion Hopkins County Stew Contest. If I remember correctly, part of the beauty contest is milking a cow.

Fortunately, I did not spend my whole life in a small town. If I did, fewer people in Rhode Island would look perplexed when I told them I was from Texas. They also wouldn't ask me, accusatorily, why I don't have an accent. I do, however, appreciate my small town roots.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The New Name

I changed the name of the blog. We haven't had snow in over a month, although we did have a little on our trip to Chicago 2 1/2 weeks ago. Also, it is technically Spring, and the weatherman says that by Friday it might actually feel like Spring. We had to wear winter coats and scarves on Easter Sunday.

I figured that once I started posting pictures of pretty Spring flowers and blooming trees that the "snow" title would be out of place. So, welcome to Dana's Dirtworks. In fifth grade I had an assignment to create a "futuristic" farm. At the time, I was a big fan of "The Jetsons," so they helped me a lot on our "futuristic" creativity assignments. Here it is important to note that we lived in Sulphur Springs, TX when I was in fifth grade, the Dairy Capital of Texas (but more on that in another post).

My "futuristic" farm assignment--I created a brochure of farm equipment that was sold by "Dana's Dirtworks." Catchy name. Appropriate for Spring. Funny because I despise outdoor chores, gardens, and really just dirt in general.

Mr. Lewis

I just updated the books I am reading since I finished a book today. I have mixed feelings about finishing books. I knew someone in school that would read the last page of every book, first. The closest I ever get to that is reading the last sentence. I just don't want to spoil the surprise, but I also don't want the book reading adventure to end. I have the same feelings about presents. I was not one of those kids that would unwrap the presents under the Christmas tree when my parents weren't home and re-wrap them so no one would know. I wanted to be surprised! I love presents, who doesn't? I do get sad when they are all opened because there is nothing special waiting for me anymore. Maybe I like having something to look forward to, or maybe I just don't want the anticipation to end.

Back to books.

I always get sad when I finish a book, at least if it is a book I have enjoyed, because the story ends. I no longer get to be a part of that world that was in the book. That's why I like series books. Fortunately, I am not so silly that I refuse to finish books because I don't want them to end.

The original intention of this post was to comment on how many C.S. Lewis books are on my "bookshelf." Nicholas and I decided to read the Chronicles of Narnia after we finished reading Harry Potter. We are on the second book chronologically, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and probably won't make any headway in the next month thanks to thesis writing. It's just coincidence that the next book I am reading for my book club is also by C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, but then again, Mr. Lewis has a large breadth of work.

Stay tuned for updates on how the Lewis Adventures are progressing.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Smiles

Easter Celebrations

We had a day filled with celebrations. Nicholas was hoping a day of rest on the Sabbath would give him clarity in his thesis writing. We went to the 9AM service at church and then helped set-up/serve/clean-up the continental breakfast between the two services that was sponsored by the committee I am on. As shown in the picture I posted yesterday, we served: mini-quiches, hashbrown casserole, mini-muffins, cheesy sausage bake, cinnamon rolls, Bunny shaped cookies, fruit, bagels, dyed eggs, hot-cross buns, and pigs in blanket. Our breakfast was a hit with very little food left over.
Then we went over to the Sprout house for brunch where we had yummy stuffed french toast, and I got my G-Baby fix.
Then we went over to the Bohrer house for dinner and the most photographed Easter Egg hunt for the Eide twins.
They used these cute, multi-purpose baskets I made them to collect the eggs.
For dessert, I made my grandmother's cheesecake. It was the first time EVER (and I have made this cheesecake more times than I can count) that I have made it without it cracking across the top! It was beautiful and delicious.
After dinner, the men watched the Master's playoff. I meant to ask Nicholas if he has ever watched golf before...