Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

We've had a very nice day together starting way, way too early when Meghan couldn't stand the suspense any longer. Steve and I and the dogs were definitely not ready to wake up, but we have a rule in the house that the youngest family member sets the time for gift opening on Christmas morning. It took some effort to rouse the boys out of bed, but we eventually met Meghan's demands to get up and get on with it.

Here are a few Christmas morning pictures:

Meghan opening her "big one," which was a new (refurbished) computer.

Richard and Michael opening a couple of their presents.

Steve making faces and going "ooooh" over the "Leaf Saturation" bowl I gave him. He's been asking for one of my "blue" bowls for over a year, so this one isn't going to a gallery or a show.

Here are some of my favorite Christmas ornaments I've collected from around the world.

My Lesotho angel, collected in 2003. The hair is made from some scouring pad, the wings are two guinea fowl feathers, and the skirt is made from beads threaded onto safety pins.

One of my "African Star" ornaments and a miniature Lesotho hat. The little hat was our field car "totem," which did bring us a lot of luck on that particular collecting trip.

Some of my African beaded ornaments, including an Ndebele angel and a chamaeleon.

My "Flying Pig" ornament.

One of my latest ones - a platypus ornament from Australia, collected this year.

One of Steve's carved Santa pencils. I have a nice collection of these from the past few years.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Winter Solstice

Today is the shortest day of the year (winter solstice in the northern hemisphere), and the first day of winter. I'll be glad to see the days getting longer.

I'm posting a couple of pictures of Stonehenge from my 2000 England trip. Stonehenge is a neat place to visit, and it probably served as an observatory. There is an alignment that reveals the first rays of sun on the winter solstice, which is why I'm posting these pics today. Enjoy!

Friday, December 16, 2005

My lunch time walk in the snow

I like to take a walk around the OSU campus on my lunch break. It's hard to get motivated to do this every day when the temperatures start to go down into the 20's and teens, but when the wind isn't blowing hard I try to get out for a bit. My usual route is to go up to Neil Avenue along the north side of the B&Z building, north on Neil to the Oval, around the Oval a couple of times, and then along Mirror Lake and back to my building.

Thursday's snow made the walk a little more charming than on most winter days. I broke in a new pair of snow boots, which made my ankles a little unhappy toward the end of my walk. A few more excursions through the snow should about do it for breaking them in the rest of the way.

I snapped this picture of the B&Z demolition. The contractors are using a jackhammer to break through the wall to separate the Coolidge era wing from the Kennedy era wing. There's a big machine parked on one side of the building that will do the brunt of the demolition. It has a motto painted on that says, "No job too big or too small -- we wreck them all." Pretty corny, eh?

This is a view of mirror lake from Neil Avenue. It's one of my favorite places on the OSU campus.

A view from College Avenue looking back toward the main library building.

My absolute favorite building on campus is Orton Hall. This is the home of the Geology Department. The building was built in the late 1800's and the layers of stone reflect the geology of Ohio. The bottom most layers of stone are from the earliest ones found in Ohio - from the Devonian. All the other layers that you can see on the facade of the building are from more recent strata. The tower houses a carillon. I like being on the oval at noon when the bells ring. I've not heard any Christmas carols played this year, but in past years I always tried to be on the oval when they were played from the carillon. I wonder if political correctness has gone too far if that's the reason there aren't any carols being played this year.

This is the view from the other side of Mirror Lake. I always feel sorry for the ducks when the pond freezes over, but they don't seem to mind walking around on the ice. There's always some unfrozen water in the pond, even in the coldest part of winter.

Snow on Thursday

We had more snow on Thursday. These pictures were taken from our front door. I really love the first snows of the season. It's only after the snow has been around for a couple of months, and the surface is all grey and dingy from the salt trucks, that I get tired of it all.

Meghan's choir concert

Meghan's 6th grade choir on Wednesday night. Meghan sang with this choir and also with a mixed choir of 6-8 grade students. Meghan is standing in the first row behind the piano player, next to a boy whose tie is all crooked.

Excitement at the old B&Z building

On Wednesday, Dec. 15, I was surprized to look out my office window to see 10 emergency vehicles, mostly fire engines, at the old B&Z building (Botany & Zoology, which is now known as Jennings Hall). The ones in the picture were able to get in between the wings. The rest of them were on both sides of the building and were blocking 12th Avenue, which I'm sure made all the drivers stuck in traffic very happy.

The contractors are working on the demolition of the 1960's era wings (the ones facing my office, and where my old laboratory was before we moved to our new building). I happened to run into the Dean of the College of Biological Sciences on my way back from a coffee run, and she told me that one of the contractors was burning through a pipe with an oxy-acetylene torch when a section of the pipe fell down onto an old wooden desk full of paper. It went up in flames and caused a big reaction from the fire department. (How many fire engines does it take to douse a desk?)

There was a lot of smoke and commotion, so I suppose it was good to have the back-up units just in case things got ugly. The funny thing is, I never heard any sirens and I didn't know all this was going on until I left my office to walk down the hall. Everyone else knew what was going on and were looking out their windows. Guess I was working too hard on Wednesday morning to have missed all the initial excitement.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

AAW Relief Auction

I've been following the AAW Relief Auction on E-bay this evening. My little bowl went for $910. Binh Pho's went for $6,000 and Frank Sudol's went for $6,601. This is pretty exciting for the AAW - all the money will go toward's helping turners who have lost their shops and equipment in disasters.

Friday, December 09, 2005

First snow of season

We've had our first snow dump of the season. It's not the first of the year, of course, since that happened back in January. We were supposed to get 3 - 5 inches, and we were on the short side of that prediction. Schools in our neighborhood weren't closed, so I drove the kids in this morning rather than making them wade through the cold stuff. No one clears their sidewalks around here except us.

The snowblower I bought for Steve worked pretty well, but Steve's hands got too cold. He doesn't have the right kind of gloves for snow. He blames it on Richard.

I haven't had time to cut up the ginkgo logs as of yet. I think the snow will keep them safe for a few more days. I have a woodturning friend coming over this Sunday to help me saw them up into usable sections. The good news is that my van no longer has "Ode to Ginkgo" wafting about. It took just a few days for the odor to dissipate.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

AAW Relief Auction is now on ebay

ebay and the AAW have sorted out the glitches and the relief auction is now taking place. Just type "AAW relief" into the search field on the opening page (ebay).

My piece has a little over 8 days to go. Right now the bid is at $280. Join in! It's for a good cause.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Gingko wood!

The old B & Z building on the campus of Ohio State University is undergoing renovation. My first office in the Department of Plant Biology was in room 356 B & Z and looked out over the back where there were two immense Ginkgo trees. These two trees were cut down yesterday to make room for the new auditorium that will be built during the renovation.

I had asked Rich Hall, Associate Dean of the College of Biological Sciences, if he could arrange for me to get some of the wood from these trees for woodturning. Some of my best memories from B & Z are of those trees blowing in the wind and in the changing fall colors. They were beautiful trees and it's hard to accept that they had to be cut down in the name of progress. I hope to pay homage to them in making some carved ginkgo leaf vessels over the next couple of years.

I was able to salvage four large sections of the trees. The contractors removing the trees loaded these into the back of my Honda Odyssey. They weighed a couple of hundred pounds apiece. I was able to manuever the two smallest ones out of the van by myself, but I had to wait for Richard to get home from school to help with the two larger sections.

Unfortunately, these were female trees and they fell onto the ground covered in their seeds. If you've never smelled ripe ginkgo seeds, you've missed out on one of the most unpleasant odors on the planet. The back of my van now is scented in "ode to ginkgo."

Thanksgiving, 2005

Here's a picture of Meghan and Richard waiting for Thanksgiving dinner. We had a nice day together. I had made pies the day before Thanksgiving (apple and blueberry), and we had all the traditional dishes for Thanksgiving, except for baked sweet potatoes. No one in our family really cares for those.

A class with Christian Burchard

Christian Burchard came to Columbus to give two hands-on classes for the Central Ohio Woodturners. I was able to take the one on thin wall hollow forms (Nov. 17, 2005). We worked with green madrone burl, which turns like butter. It was really a fun day and I learned a lot about pushing the boundaries of technique. Christian is a good teacher and had much to offer us in terms of techniques and design ideas.

We used a light shining through the wall to gauge thickness. My vessel has walls that are 1/16 inch thick. That was a lot of fun!

Here are some pictures from the day.

Christian demonstrating how to shape the outside of one his madrone basket vessels.

Christian hollowing the inside of the vessel and using a light to gauge the wall thickness.

Christian and I at the end of the class.

My finished vessel.