Monday, February 27, 2006

Not your average town

There is a family owned grocery store here in town called Ingles. I recently have been fascinated by ads, messages, and other info printed on everyday items. I got home tonight and this bag cracked me up. I guess it doesn't take much to entertain me. Ingles is definitely Nacho average store and I am really glad that nachos don't have bug eyes...they would be so unpleasant to eat if they did. Although I suppose enough cheese makes just about anything edible.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Loving North Carolina Already/Goodbye Knotts

After another six hours in the car today I arrived at the cabin. My home for the next few weeks while Christine sells the house. After unpacking the car and setting up the computer I went to the grocery store for the essentials. A local microbrewery produces several interesting beers including this Black Mocha Stout which I just had to put in the cart. The chocolate finish is touted to be achieved through specially roasted barley. I have been disappointed by some local brews in the past, but not this one. It was an excellent beer especially after three long days of solo travel. My mind is refreshed, but I am glad all the sitting still for long stretches of time is over. Highland brewery also makes an Oatmeal Porter which I might need to try next week.

I sadly learned tonight that Don Knotts passed away. This guy was a great comedic writer and decorated WWII veteran. I also never met anyone (who I liked) who didn't think that his portrayal of 'Barney Fife' on the Andy Griffith Show in the late 1960's was one of the funniest things on TV ever.

Blurry Bird Pictures

This morning as I was about to leave my parents house for North Carolina when this hawk landed in the front yard. My parents have had a pair returning to their wooded lot for the past few years and nesting. Very majestic animals, too bad my early morning photography doesn't do them justice.

Friday, February 24, 2006

On the Road...

On Thursday, I lectured one final time (I will finish the course distance ed.) and hit the road. I gave myself two days to get to Richmond (where I am blogging from, a record 2 times in the last 2 weeks). I took the Civic since there will still be snow in Vermont and Christine is taking care of the dogs until we sell the house. The dogs love their Honda Element. Of course I brought along the mountain bike and cyclocross bike. The rest of the car was filled to the gills with my stuff. The first day of the trip was truly awful. I had reserved a hotel room north of Baltimore and according to Yahoo it should be about seven hours of driving. Turned out to be more like 10. The interstates turned into stop-and-go around New York. During one particularly slow stretch, I did a cell phone survey. Of 100 cars passing mine: sixty-three had drivers talking on a cell phone. Additionally, only 13 of the 100 cars had more than 1 occupant. By the time I got the hotel my mind was a blank and on the night stand was this post-it pad. It represented my current state (no pen required).

Tough Farewells Mitigated by Good Beer

On my last night in town several friends of mine gathered for one more beer prior to my departure. If you are guessing it was more than one beer for most of the people there you would be right. Above: Dave tells Deb all about the magical possibilities of constructed wetlands.
I am not sure what Tom is thinking here, but I would like to know...wouldn't you?
Nate (my first grad student, sorry for my steep learning curve Nate!), Dave (my trusty technician and right hand man at work for the last six years), and Tom (grad student #3, I knew I was in trouble when he arrived to the sledding party with a homemade sled called a 'jumpjack' made from a single down hill ski and two pieces of scrap wood).
Cully (former UVMer like me now) and Dave. Dave is about to get his M.S. and is already gainfully employed by the state in agriculture/environmental work.
Craig and I pose for a picture while Amanda seems to be not so patiently looking at the bartender for her next beer. P.S. Craig's fiance Christine (grad student #4 graciously took all these photos so that I could enjoy myself).
Four-month-old Rosalina makes her pub debut with Mom (left), Cully, Colleen, Christine and Nate. Thanks for a great time guys.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Chocolate Fruit

The Theobroma cacao L. tree in the greenhouse bloomed in the fall and now has audacious fruit on it. It is a fascinating tropical. The blooms actually occur on old growth, so you get flowers actually bursting out of side of the main trunk of the tree. Then after a few months these large banana yellow pods (botanically a drupe I think) are ready. The pods are about 6-8 inches in length and 4-5 inches in diameter. The greenhouse manager and a couple of undergrads were going to try and make some chocolate. The process is pretty involved. You take the 'beans' out, ferment them, and then there is roasting and other steps involved. I estimate if they harvest all four pods on our young specimen they can probably make the equivalent of 2-3 Hershey's Kisses and probably enough cocoa butter to moisturize the back of one hand.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Weekend of Good Beer and Even Better Friends

So this past Friday (2/17) was the the Official Guinness Toast. The local Irish Pub (Cody's in Essex Junction, VT) was an official site to join in the toast. Since I am leaving for a new job, a bunch of my colleagues surprised me and met me at the bar for the some good food, good conversation and the toast. The whole thing made me feel like a very blessed person to know so many great people. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera. I received a really cool T-shirt and amazing photo of Mount Mansfield (the mountain seen from our eastern windows in Underhill) as a going a way gift. We also got some official Guinness Toast day t-shirts for participating. Kevin Cody, the owner of Cody's, also gave me a Cody's sweatshirt as an unexpected momento that I will wear in good spirits for some time to come. In fact, we had such a good time several of us headed up to Stowe on Saturday to a microbrewery called The Shed for some more cheer.
The weekend's events reminded me of some great times last spring when we joined Christine's parents in Ireland for a week of touring the southwest coast. I took this shot at a bar called Moriarty's in the fishing village of Dingle. The Guiness is good here, but I believe it might have tasted just a bit better there. Something about the weather and good natured people just makes you want to spend time hanging out chatting.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Want to see my Mussel?

This was a joint project between Christine and I last year. The falcon that is currently on the Vermont 'Endangered' license plate is apparently no longer in trouble according to the folks that make such decisions. The Burlington Free Press ran an art contest for ideas for the next plate.Since she does a lot of work surveying native endangered mussels we thought this would make a cool plate. I did the Illustrator work and she provided biological consultation for accuracy. In case you are wondering. The thing hanging out of the mussel shell is designed to attract fish (natural lure if you will) to attack the mussel. These lures can look like minnows or other fish food sources. When attacked the mussel releases glochidia. The glochidia are sort of like larvae that are obligate parasites. Some of the glochidia will land on the fishes gills where they will develop for a period of time and then fall to the bottom and begin life as a free living mussel. The mussel is essentially fishing for host that will serve as a 'free' nursery for young developing mussels.

The image was published in color in the paper, but Catamount was by far the most popular plate. I like the mountain lion, but there is debate as to whether any currently even inhabit the state of Vermont.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


In continuing with yesterday's theme I thought I would post the two-page magazine layout I had as an assignment in my computer graphics class. The instructor liked everything but the color choice. The title font is good old Papyrus...overused, but turned out OK for this application. I really like magazines especially those that are more photo and less text. When I open one, I like the image to reach out and grab me and make me pay the $5.00 to take the publication home.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Well I have officially resigned from my post at The University of Vermont. I am headed to Clyde, NC (20 minutes west of Asheville) next week. There are things I will miss at UVM, but I am looking forward to my new job and living a bit closer to family. It will be a fine thing that mountain biking season will be longer down there as well.

I took a picture of the flowers (Frittilaria) above in Christine's flower bed last summer (she held a velvet black cloth behind) then I had some fun with Photoshop. Seemed appropriate for the mood I am in today.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Richmond Trip Full of Surprises

The first surprise was the snow. See image at end of post. The second surprise was the trip to Starbuck's made possible by blogging. So John (aka Bullbunky) and I had both had been home to Richmond maybe twice in the past couple of years. I was catching up on work e-mail while in Richmond (at my folk's house) and I decided to surf over to Travels and Tribulations and see what was up. I start reading about Chickadees and Bingles and realize that John is probably about two miles away at his parent's house. John, Jeff B., and I grew up within a short bike ride of each other. I give him a ring and after asking my pop to borrow the car (kind of felt good just to ask for the keys (made me feel young again)) we were headed for a quick coffee via an awesome Jeep Wrangler with Yosemite Sam floor mats. If it wasn't for the blog...I would have missed out on this opportunity to catch up with a dear friend.I am in the green hat, my nephew Zach is in hot pursuit and my Dad is preparing a rather large snowball targeted for one of his three grandsons present in the great snowball battle of 2006. Sorry about the daffodils MOM :-)

Burlington, VT to Richmond, VA Only 2 Days by Air

So we fell for it again. We arrived at Burlington Airport to catch a 6:00 flight to Newark in route to Richmond, VA. We board on time, all the passengers are present and accounted for and then we pull way from the gate and the engines power down. Pilot on the intercom: Ground delay in Newark we may be here a while. We don't take off until 7:30 pm.This is the view while we sit on the runway. Look familiar? It did give me time to finish a book I have been enjoying:The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America. Well by the time we got to Newark Liberty Airport (The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has operated Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) under a lease with the City of Newark since March 22, 1948. Newark Liberty is located in Essex and Union Counties between the New Jersey Turnpike EWR is about 16 miles from midtown Manhattan.) we missed the last connector to Richmond and had to go to the dreaded service counter. Continental had generously rebooked us out on the next flight available at 8:50 am. I had checked one bag that I could retrieve, but I was informed that might take some time and was offerred a complimentary toiletry kit (which by the way had a hairspray and comb; for those of you who know me you know how truly critical these items are for my survival). Since the ground delay was no one's fault we were also offerred a distressed passenger rate at the local Fairfield Inn and Suites (they did upgrade us to a suite which was nice).
There is enough history in the book to keep it believable, but Larson also did a really nice job of fictionalizing events surrounding the facts and figures. It is about Daniel Burnham chief architect of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago and H.H. Holmes a medical doctor turned serial killer. There are lots of other names you will recognize as well including: Buffalo Bill, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, George Ferris, and Frederick Olmsted (Founder of Landscape Architecture (Central Park, Biltmore Estate, etc.). Good Read.

So we got a good night's sleep and caught the shuttle the next morning. I had a few minutes to kick around the terminal and took this image of my favorite EWR terminal sign. Now I am not sure exactly what feelings the image is supposed invoke, or exactly what this woman's profession is, but it certainly makes the prospect of a cold beer both exciting and a little scary at the same time. Perhaps that is the point?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Lunch Bunch

Christine and I traveled to Richmond, VA. It took 2 days by plane, but that is another story for another blog. We were able to have lunch with our nephews and niece at J.B. Watkins elementary. Unlike my days at A.M. Davis when parents only showed at lunch when an aid was sick, this school has a guest table and the students can have adults come visit at lunch. Kind of nice. The boy with the wild hair is my nephew Rawlings. My dad is in the background. My niece Emily had just arrived from a field trip to the Math and science museum, so she didn't get to have lunch, but my Mom pulled her out of class so that she wouldn't feel left out. They were all excited to attend the Watkins Wacky Winter Wiggle later that evening. The youngest of my sister's children is Baylor. They obviously all enjoyed the healthy alternative of Arby's deep fried chicken and curly fries compared to the lunch that they normally pack into school. My mother is in the image off to the right. Elementary school sure has changed. In my day fast food in the lunch room was akin to a cardinal sin.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Nostalgia Continues

I got kind of caught up in these old pictures last night, so I decided to dedicate a post to the other half of my family. Yesterday you got a look at the Goins, today the Tignors. Above is a picture of my father's parents in Richmond, VA (late 1930s ?). I am always amazed at how well people dressed in the past when they were out on the town.
This is a picture of my father and mother on their wedding day in December 1966. They were married in the parsonage next to Central Baptist Church in Chesterfield County, Sergeant Tignor is looking handsome in his Marine Corps uniform.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Family Photo Repair

I love old pictures of my family. About 9 months ago my mother sent me some images that were badly damaged and asked If I could work on them. It has become a rainy day project, but I am making some headway and learning about the amazing use you can put some of the Photoshop CS filters to (I haven't sprung for CS2 yet). The 'Dust and Scratches' filter under the noise category is remarkable. The healing brush and clone stamp are also some of my other favorite tools for this type of effort. The above picture was torn in half and badly scratched. It is a picture of my grandfather 'Papa'. My parents land was adjacent to his 100-acre farm west of Richmond, VA.The young girl above is my mother circa 1944? Eighth and youngest child of my grandfather pictured above. She was named Shirley after Shirley Temple. I may do some Ted Turner colorizing on this one for fun. It seems like a good candidate for some light pastel additions.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Sick Puppy

Last year in my graphic design class we had to choose a book cover and complete a redesign. I love Carl Hiaasen books and editorials, so I decided to choose one of my favorites, 'Sick Puppy.' The book also has a labrador retriever as a main character, so what is not to like. I was really happy with this and the other class members gave it good reviews. Everyone seemed to like the orange and green colors. I also dialed in the color on the puppy photograph stock to make it have a purple hue to compliment the orange color of the book jacket. For those of you who have read the book: "SAVE TOAD ISLAND!". The original paperback cover is shown below; good design to, but different approach.

Monday Mornings

I am in the process of adding meta tags to about a 1000 images (marginal) out of about a set of 10,000 (really bad). I came across this one and it just seems like the way many of the people I know (myself included) feel on Mondays. There is lots to do, but no matter how hard you try there is a certain predetermined pace that is beyond your control. At least I don't have to travel as much as some of my old friends from college (see Report from 24C).

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Dreaming of Warmer Days

In early September Christine and I drove up to Acadia National Park for a long weekend. The weather was very atypical. We enjoyed dining outside without jackets and kayaking in the Atlantic without the need for spray skirts. We spent one long day riding on the carriage trails in the park. The photo above is from the highest point on the carriage trail system. The trails are well maintained and for the most part the hills are doable, even by those who don't ride often. It was so warm and sunny I could have stayed on the trails forever.We had lunch twice at the Jordon Pond House. The restaurant is located within the park and is right off of the bike trail. The restaurant's claim to fame is a homemade popover which is served steaming from the oven. They melt in your mouth and when served with lobster bisque the popovers make about as filling a post ride meal as you can imagine.

It has actually been warm in Vermont (48 F) today, but very gray, rainy, and overcast. The snow is all but gone in the town and X-country skiing is done for now except maybe at some of the resorts on the mountain. Hopefully, we will get more snow soon. On the news last night it was reported that snow mobile sales and repairs were down by 40% this winter. I can only imagine the money the ski resorts must be losing right now.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Old Truck

So I finally got around to working on my artwork a little over the holidays. I am still mostly working in art markers and colored pencils. My abilities at capturing light are still limited, so I wanted to try and draft something with a lot of reflection. I found an image of an old truck on istockphoto and decided to try and render it. I am fairly pleased with it except the reds above the fender. They just don't look quite right. I am planning on starting something else this weekend. (the streak down the middle is a scanner artifact)

My side venture, 2doggraphics, also has a follow-up due on an equine horse safety poster (scroll down to see a thumbnail of the 11" X 17" poster) that had a printing run of about 5,000. This was an Illustrator project that is being used to show children around the country the correct way to wear a helmet for equestrian activities. I did the central graphic of the girl in the helmet and the font work using Illustrator, but the background at the bottom was stock. Dr. Greene at UVM is having me add an original background of my own for the next printing.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

It's a Dog's Life

We never allow our dogs on the furniture, well never 'used' to allow. In the past year Tucker has developed the habit of putting his front legs on Chris' lap and then resting. The problem is that he starts to fall asleep and his back legs (still) on the floor begin giving out. Then he wakes up. It is really pitiful, so once in a while I lift up his back legs and place him entirely on the couch. It makes him the happiest dog in the world and within seconds he is 'out' on Christine. He will sleep like that as long as we let him.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

North Carolina Hopeful

So I left January 19th for an Interview in Clyde, N.C. Burlington International Airport has undergone some recent expansions and at the new gates there are lots of windows and the walls and columns are covered in maple. This is about the busiest picture I can imagine taking.Clyde, N.C. is located due west of Asheville, N.C. The job is to develop some on-line courses for the Horticulture program at Haywood Community College. I was really impressed with the campus. A concerted effort has been made to preserve green space and it shows. The main entrance to the campus is shown above. The horticulture complex had a good size glass greenhouse and a new propagation house. Rodent control is provided by a cat named 'Flower.' You have to love that. The instructors and administrators were very personable and I hope to be employed there very soon.A friend and former graduate student in our department, Andrea, was very generous and showed me around Asheville and also drove all over western North Carolina so that I would have a chance to scope out potential living sites for Christine and I. It was a cloudy overcast day, but my favorite town near Clyde was Waynesville. It had a really nice downtown with several good restaurants and a furniture/coffee shop with some very amusing owners. Asheville is awesome, but Christine and I have promised ourselves to a shorter commute wherever we go next.

Apple Anomaly

This past fall in Vermont we had an early snow storm with low temperatures. This weather happened while leaves were still on the trees and apples still hung from fruiting spurs. It seemed to shut down or slow down many tree physiologial processes. One highly visible side effect is the persistent presence of fruit on apple trees this winter. I think the early storm stopped the formation of the abscission layer that normally promotes fruit drop at the end of the season. These apples were red and are now rotting in place.