Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

up close with falcons

Last week I walked over to campus to see falcons as part of CMU's Earth Day activities. The owner has 13 and told me that he hunts with them, so they fly free and return to him. (I didn't ask him to expand on the hunting part.) He also said he had to stop doing so many education sessions with young kids because they get really grossed out when they see the falcons eating dead animals. Yeah, I can understand that.

Monday, April 27, 2009

my new tree

We bought and planted a tree this weekend! While I had decided on a Flowering Dogwood, I fell in love with another tree at Home Depot--a Kousa Dogwood, cousin to the Flowering Dogwood. I just couldn't resist this eight-foot, nicely shaped beauty. One of the reasons I wanted a Flowering Dogwood was because it's native to this region; the Kousa is native to Japan, Korea, and China. But the Kousa is more pest and disease resistant and gets taller, both plusses. It has a later and longer bloom period and is more upright than sprawling. Just two days after being planted, tiny green leaves are beginning to break out of the little buds. I'm excited to see if it flowers this year!

Of course, now we have a big square of dirt with only the tree planted, so it seems lonely. Next step--deciding what to plant around it.

art, music, waterfalls & a nice walk in the woods

Black Moth Super Rainbow playing outside on the lawn at CMU. Great night for a show!
Art All Night in Lawrenceville.Along Ferncliff Trail at Ohiopyle.

Friday, April 24, 2009

lots of good stuff this weekend

So excited for this weekend! Here's what's on tap:

Black Moth Super Rainbow
at CMU (CFA Lawn), starts at 8 p.m. Saturday.

12th Annual Art All Night in Lawrenceville, starts at 6 p.m. Saturday and goes all night long until 2 p.m. on Sunday. Last year they had some 1,000 artists exhibiting and 10,000 visitors. I met someone at one point who lives in New Jersey but comes to Pittsburgh every single year just for this! Dave will be putting in a piece, and I'm going to try to as well. The best part of this year's event? I don't have to volunteer as part of my job and don't have to deal with irritants like having our brand stolen for the t-shirt design :)

80-degree temps. Oh, yeah! My sandals and mini-skirts have been waiting through the long winter to come out, so this is their chance! We're going to buy and plant our tree and also want to check out an abandoned whiskey distillery that Dave found out about (yes, trespassing through abandoned and crumbling buildings is fun for us).

Enjoy the nice weekend!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

battling the monster root

Friday I had off and spent the sunny afternoon in the back yard shoveling gravel and attempting to dig out the roots from the tree we had cut down. I'd gone to Target in the morning and bought a small weeding tool that I thought I could use to get the root out. But the more I dug, the better I was able to see what a giant root the tree had. The tree had been planted in the very back corner of the yard, and its massive root system had nowhere to go except for right under the patio.

Dave thought he could get it out with an ax. (At Home Depot, he wanted to buy lime and lots of plastic sheeting in addition to the ax to make it look like we were planning a murder.) After a few hours of vigorous ax swinging, Dave's hands and arms felt like jelly but the biggest parts of the root were out. We now have a hole for a tree!

Monday, April 20, 2009

my favorite part of spring is here

My ferns are coming up!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

cmu spring carnival

This weekend is CMU's Spring Carnival. On Thursday I walked over to campus to check out the buggy design competition. It always amazes me that a.) students build these things every year and b.) students fit into these things every year. Buggies are aerodynamic vehicles powered only by gravity and human pushers, able to reach speeds up to 35 miles per hour. One person gets in the buggy to steer and another person pushes the buggy during the Sweepstakes races held at Carnival. It's been a tradition at CMU since 1920.
Booth is another Carnival tradition. Student organizations build multi-story, interactive structures for competition. This year's theme was Epic Adventures. Booth themes included Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jack and the Beanstalk, Where the Wild Things Are, and my favorite, The Goonies. They were all pretty cool. It was too dark to take pictures, unfortunately, but here are some from the midway.
After checking out the booths, trying to get Dave to ride a ride (he said no), and eating bad carnival food, we headed over to the campus lawn to see The New Pornographers. We met up with Mel, a good friend I met at my very first job out of school. It was great to see her! We had a great view from the side--this is the band clapping to their last song, a rendition of ELO's Don't Bring Me Down.
Carnival continues through today, the 18th, so check it out if you can.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

backyard project coming along

In part two of the backyard project, Dan the landscaper came last week to install a wood fence in the back and remove part of our concrete patio.

I found this photo from 2005 of the raised back bed that we tore out that was shaded by the tree that had to be cut down. How shady and pretty it was.
Here's a photo after we removed the fence that Dave built and after we took apart the raised bed. You can see how the back left portion of the patio was being uprooted by the tree. Dan praised Dave's work on the fence he built--we're going to try to use it in another part of the back.And here's the root of the problem--literally!Here's what it looks like now--with the back fence and back quarter of the patio removed. We decided to only put a wood fence in back because in summer the sides of the chain link fence are completely covered with ivy, so we only really need a screening fence in the back.Yes, that is Grubble sniffing around the rocks. He loves to roll around in the gravel.
Next step: remove the gravel, dig a hole, and plant a tree!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

easter in the mon valley

I missed my sister's birthday when I was in CA so made a rainbow cake for her for Easter using the idea from here and here. I was wary of making it with diet pop like the recipe calls for. But even though it was full of completely unhealthy chemicals, it was a huge hit! It was dense but very moist and yummy, and the rainbowing came out nicely. After dinner at my mom's in the Valley, we took the more leisurely route back to Pgh on Route 837 through all the mill towns. McKeesport is kinda scary, even on Easter Sunday. (And that should say something coming from someone who has a high tolerance for scary neighborhoods.) But it was still a nice, sunny, relaxing ride home.
Emma did not like this idea!
Posing under the magnolia tree: Bill, Katharine, Mom, Harrison, Kathy.
Aunt JoAnn, David, Nicole, and baby Emma.
And us. McKeesport.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

spring in the backyard

The cats and I enjoyed the sun yesterday. I know I'm biased, but I think Grubble is the most handsome cat. He's my guy! (And this is a sneak peek at my new fence! I'll post more pix next week.)
Elsie is just getting used to the outside and is still a little nervous.
Perennials are springing up, and my cherry tree blossoms are changing to new leaves. Still too cool to sit out for long on the deck, but it's almost time for dinners made on the charcoal grill, relaxing on the deck with a book after work, and drinking cocktails on warm evenings. Even my orchid is happy it's spring--here he's peeking out from the kitchen window to enjoy the sun :)