Green Rascal Design

Today @letsblogoff asks... "Where is the edge of your world? Did you ever take a step beyond that horizon?"
There have been many edges in my world, and I woudn't be the person I am today if I hadn't stepped beyond them.

At first it seemed my parents were disappointed because I didn't just go off to the University of Minnesota like they'd planned, or like my older sister did. I wanted to make a smoother transition from high school to the big city, and spent some time at a community college first. It was great and I made one amazing friend for life there... And then I moved on to the University. It was big and scary, but that was really my first threshold to cross. I'm glad I took my time, though, because I was much more prepared for "the real world" where I was not a big fish anymore.

See, my life in a small town was pretty easy; I was smart - near the top of my class, and I knew who liked me and who didn't for the most part. (most people didn't like me.) When I got to Minneapolis suddenly I wasn't the top of my class anymore, and there were lots of people who pretended to like me but didn't or showed no interest but actually were very fond of me. It was weird. I struggled. A lot. But at least I had some constants like my friends who were nearby and my job that I loved.

Skip ahead 4 years, and suddenly I was in Philadelphia. I had secured a place to live and a job, but didn't know anybody here and was totally unprepared for the challenges of grad school. Not to mention losing who I thought was the love of my life to an accident while I was in transit from there to here... Man, I'd never been in such uncharted territory before. I made some mistakes and learned a lot from them. Went to a bunch of neat places and loved it. You've heard it all before.

Graduation brought another threshold...
Marriage brought another...

And then there was unemployment. In a city with a massive abundance of architects, what's one more architect to do? What a mess! So I figured eventually to try not working for someone else for a change, and ventured on over the threshold of entrepreneurship. I'm not sure I like this world, though. Not sure what the future holds.

Today I was planning on writing something a bit less emotional - not that there's much emotion in this piece, but I'm getting a bit upset thinking about how hard business is - this seems more relevant to lots of things that I've been thinking about lately. Listening to the Inspiring Women's Summit was enlightening. And I've been volunteering some time lately, which probably needs attention at some point here. Reading a bit about productivity this morning was another thing that led me to participate in the blogoff today. Anyway, I've been feeling a little like another threshold is coming or has been presenting itself for some time now... There is something I want to do, and people are telling me not to. frustrating!

This blogoff is a good brief opportunity to think about how far I have personally and professionally come, and for that I am thankful. It's always good to know the world isn't flat! See below for other people who've gone to the edge...
When I was a little kid, one of my best friends had a big hedge of lilacs at her house. We played in her backyard a lot. Those were the days! I liked the lilacs so much that we tried to grow one at mom's house, but it never blossomed.

Years later, when I had my first architecture job just after high school, my boss would send me on errands around the Twin Cities. I enjoyed those trips because it got me out of the office and I got to see our project sites. Close to the office was a hedge of lilacs on a busy side street, and in the summer it was the best spot to drive through with the windows open. I took that route as often as possible.
My grandparents waited a long time before my mom and dad came along. Their lives were very difficult, and most of them were long gone before Mom and Dad had me. So the theme of today's blogoff, "My grandmother always said..." strikes me a different way... My only surviving genetic grandparent was very ill when I knew him, and I don't think he spoke English at the time.

So there were things that Mom did that I thought were a bit strange.
I feel like I'm about to step into an old Cher song or Days of Our Lives or something, but today's blogoff seemed like a worthy topic despite my serious lack of said time today. The editors simply asked "What would you change if you could turn back time?"

There are lots of things I can think of that are regrettable in my past, but when I think about going back and changing them I realize that any change I made would alter myself as I am. And I like myself as I am. (Even though I have serious flaws, my mom says everybody has always been totally impressed with me, but she's my mom.) But I would like to have been less sensitive as a young person.

Being a highly sensitive person causes a lot of problems. My family has struggled with this condition as long as I can remember, or so my mom tells me. It has lead to a lot of anguish over such insignificant things that you would probably find it laughable. If I wasn't such a sensitive person I'd laugh too! But anyway, that is the one thing I wish I could go back and change.

I would go back to when I was 6 and sitting on the steps outside my house crying because I "had no friends," or "nobody likes me," and put an arm around my shoulder and say something to make me feel better. No idea what that might sound like... But I was always upset because kids were mean and I cried easily so they found it amusing to pick on me. Of course my mom tried to help, but...

Maybe I'd have to go back farther and somehow change whatever gene controls hyper-sensitivity somehow. Being not a scientist, I'm not sure how that would work. But if that would have made the difference between being timid and normal, I think I'd do it. Now, naturally, things are better. But I could do without such things as "call reluctance," "holiday depression," "post-holiday stress disorder," low self-esteem, and being easily overwhelmed...

I wonder what everybody else would change:
Thanks for reading, and you guys rock!
Happy New Year!

I haven't done a blog off post in a while, but I'm back! I'm really interested in what 2012 has in store. The Green Rascal has seen some good luck in recent weeks. Every time I talk about the work we do here I seem to win a door prize. It's awesome. Even as I write this I'm enjoying one of them. It's a massage pad with heat. I put it on my office chair, and even without the heat portion it's way warmer at my desk! I've also won a floral arrangement and a membership to Philly Barter or Barter Philly, and 1$ on a scratch-off Christmas gift.

So I expect 2012 to be awesome.

Architecture seems to be coming back a little bit. (just as I was about to post my "Missing: Profession of Architecture" flier from Coffee with an Architect) I posted my first Green Rascal flier at a local cafe where I like to meet people. And the universe seems to be smiling at anything Green Rascal related. Everyone loves the business cards. Everyone loves the idea of living greener and growing their own food, etc. Everyone loves the chickens and their eggs. I'm really hoping this keeps going!

My networking group, 422 ARCH, is having its first happy hour of the year at Rock Bottom (Brewery). There's nowhere to go but up! 422 has been doing really well for a little meetup group. We routinely get around 20 people at our events. Some are regulars and some are new. I expect this to continue. We've got lots of fun ideas for places to get together and chillax with building pros.

I haven't been teaching lately, but perhaps there are other ways to pass on knowledge. I have been thinking more and more about this, and perhaps in 2012 I'll put some of that into action!

The garden is doing awesome. We expect large amounts of fruit to harvest this year, assuming the weather is at least survivable. Everything we have planted seems to be doing really really well despite all the wackiness of 2011. We got 50+ pounds of tomatoes when our farmer at the CSA was lamenting how all their tomatoes died. That's just one example. We're thinking that we will save hundreds of dollars on certain foods this year - and well into the future also because we plan on planting even more!

Savings are up. We still haven't felt the need to turn on the oil burner. The oil company backed down and gave us a break on our monthly bill.

The only thing that isn't bright and shiny is the student loan thing. I could really use a break when it comes to the student loans. They are the only thing holding me back at this point.

But with all this other good stuff going on, I have nothing but good vibrations for the new year! Rock on!
I'll start off this blogoff with the question straight from Let's Blogoff:

"What was the one thing you longed for when you were a child? . . . what was that one big thing? Furthermore, did you ever get it? Did it provide everything it promised? How do you think your childhood longing affects you as an adult?"

I understood this question to mean more like, "who did you want to be when you were a child?" This is because I never really wanted for anything. I was a pretty happy kid. Sure, there was the set of Legos, but I had lots and lots of Legos, which brings me back to my interpretation of the question at hand.
I have taken time for granted! Just this morning I was thinking, Geez! There is WAY too much stuff to do! I haven't posted a blog in forever, and have been meaning to participate in the blogoff much earlier today.

Business has been very busy. I have a house plan I'm working on slowly. There have been several lunches, etc. I still need to send follow-up messages to thank all the people I've had lunch with, etc. Really, I do plan on sending out thank you messages! Promise!

And I've been working on stuff for a new project somewhat unrelated to my Rascal duties. I'm doing business development for another entrepreneur who has been working in a similar industry for years. It's fun because I studied home automation at Penn, and I find it really interesting. Hopefully it will take off. I will probably post links at some point, however things need to settle down first!

The little chickens are laying eggs now! I know I mentioned it before, but the fluffs are taking up some more time lately because of the heat. I have to furnish them with stockpiles of ice underneath their house in an attempt to keep them somewhat cooler. They seem to want lots of attention, too, and mommy just isn't around much this week.

The garden is awesome, but we're not really getting any blackberries like we hoped. Also, there were some teenagers back there last night really late smashing things up. They didn't really do any damage here, but next door they destroyed some plants and things. It was really upsetting, and I didn't get much sleep after they woke us up at 2:30am. So I lost sleep time too!

And this Thursday is the kickoff for the 422 ARCH. We have been running around like, well you know what, trying to figure out who is coming, how many of them there will be, and how do we collect all this info for next time... It's a madhouse. I'm very much looking forward to Thursday evening when we will finally all just be there hanging out, and can collect biz cards so we know who actually showed... We're already starting to plan the next official event. (there are two unofficial events scheduled in between!) At our August event we hope to have a speaker! It'll be really cool - but this all takes so much time to set up!

So there are so many things going on that I have not had a moment to think about what I have been taking for granted - other than time itself. It seems like only a few months ago I had some time and it was grand. The blog was being updated somewhat regularly and all was well here in Rascal-land. I'm really sorry I haven't been able to read the other blogoff posts yet today, but at this point I think I will have to extend my blogoff into tomorrow.

Time strikes again!
This is going to be a short discussion about traditions, spurred on by LetsBlogOff. They ask "Of the traditions that were handed down to you, how many of them do you keep? Which ones have you altered and how have you adjusted them to fit your life? Can you see your traditions being passed down to the people who follow you or do you think of them as just some things that you do"

It might seem really depressing, but I can't really think of any traditions that were handed down to me from when I was young. I mean, our traditions included mostly staying home and doing nothing on holidays. Ok, maybe we lit some candles and watched fireworks on tv or something. It was always very low-key for holidays growing up.

In the last couple of years I have been going to very large family events where I seem to always end up crying in a dark room with a headache from the stress of it all.

For a few years we had regular summer vacations up north at a cabin on a lake that mom's friend rented out to us and other friends. Those were good times. If I can do something similar in a few years it would be nice.

Currently I don't feel like we have traditions. They're just some things that we do. Maybe once we're more successful we can tear ourselves away from the chickens and the homestead for periodic short trips. The one thing I think we've been doing well is an annual fall get-together with friends, but that party is so big that I end up not getting to talk to all my friends that much. Go figure!

Although, this blogoff thing is a nice tradition!
For the blogoff today, I'll be talking about my favorite tv show. The bloggers decided it might be fun to give everyone a chance to talk about their guilty pleasures when it comes to the television, and at first, I must admit, I struggled with this topic. I have a lot of tv shows I like a lot or even love. Some of my favorite shows are intellectually stimulating or provide some kind of mystery to solve. Some that I watch teach life lessons or just plain earth sciences type knowledge. Still others I strongly identify with the main character in some way, which  keeps me coming back. I thought about stuff on DIY and HGTV. I considered fantasy stuff like Inuyasha and Stargate. I strongly considered Star Trek and the like...

But you can't beat Doctor Who.

I love Doctor Who. I watched it as a little kid. I've collected as many old episodes as possible. I've made at least one very good friend because of Doctor Who. I bought a Dr Who graphic novel from the year of my birth when I was in London. My mom gave me a remote control Dalek for Christmas one year - and I also kept the box because it was so cool looking.

Okay, I might not know lots of trivia. And I don't follow the websites and stuff that talk about the show. But we manage to watch the newest episodes online, on the big tv regardless of quality... We get together with friends from the UK who live here now and set up super nerdy ways to watch the show... And for a good long time I and my two roommates and one friend used to watch several episodes from the 70s every night while doing homework or work work or whatever on laptops. It was a beautiful thing.

I don't really have a favorite Doctor. If you know anything about the show, you know it's been on for a very long time, since the 60s with a break in the 80s and 90s, with several actors playing the main character. I'm not a huge fan of the first two Doctors. I really like Tom Baker - the one with the scarf. Not the frilly shirt one so much. The one with the celery was fun. I didn't like the one from the movie. But I really like all three of the most recent Doctors, even Matt Smith, the most recent one.

The Doctor has companions who travel around with him, and they always add something interesting. The most recent couple of companions are really great. I like Any and Rory a lot. Martha was brilliant. Rose was cool. Ace was a blast, literally. And then there was Sarah Jane Smith, and what a girl was she! Most of the companions are okay in my book. There are a couple from the 80s who I could do without, but usually they are fun and interesting. I like their accents and the costumes they wear - especially when they had impractical shoes.

One other companion was K-9, a robotic dog. I have a picture of myself with K-9 outside of St Paul's in London, actually. For some reason there was a lot of Doctor Who stuff going on when I visited there, but the lady who I got to take the picture said it wasn't what I thought. I never found out what was going on, though.

As far as bad guys and aliens, you can't get better than Doctor Who bad guys and aliens. I LOVE Alpha Centauri with the giant eyeball head and plush curtain as a cape. I like the really super old-school Cyber Men - the ones obviously made from HVAC parts, you know flexible air vent pipe as arms and such. I like the Ice Warriors who look like lizards. The spider puppets are awesome. The hemavores were hilarious in my opinion. Who could forget the Master and his hysterical laugh? And don't forget the Daleks, with their little goofy eye things, suction cups and laser wands - and their inability to go up stairs until recent years!

Then there's the TARDIS: time and relative dimensions in space. What a hottie. She's the space ship/time machine they travel around in. The TARDIS has also changed a lot over time. I didn't like the curvy slimy columnar version from the Christopher Eccleston era. And I didn't really like the metal grated floor version from the David Tennant era. I think my favorite version is the clean white circles version from the late 70s and 80s. Perhaps they had a budget cut, but that version was around a long time, and it was sleek and cool in my opinion.

Well anyway, I guess it's obvious I could go on and on about Doctor Who. It's a great show now, and it was a great show when I was a kid!

I'm interested in finding out about everyone else's guilty tv pleasures. Here is the list of other participants in this week's blogoff!
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I was going to say red is my favorite color when I thought about it yesterday while picking the first real bunch of strawberries of the season. They are beautiful, and we're so happy the excess rain hasn't destroyed every single strawberry in the patch already. I did have to toss out just as many rotting strawberries as these perfect little jewels here.
Then, of course, I remembered how awesome green is when I made the salad with our home-grown lettuce. This is the Amish deer-tongue lettuce (with a little spinach) that we planted quite a while back. It's the type of lettuce that you can pick individual leaves from instead of killing the whole plant to harvest some salad. These leaves were miraculously saved from the onslaught of leaf-eating slugs which are attacking just about everything. Luckily the chickens LOVE to eat slugs, so all we have to do is find the little buggers and introduce them to the birds.
Speaking of birds, I love orange/gold/brown... and white, and black... They're such sweeties lately. Here are the big fluffs with some new straw.
And here are the mini fluffs in the FUV. Pumpkin is SO PRETTY, and I LOVE the peachy color that Clover is developing.
I really like yellow too. In the birds' eyes it is really striking. Yellow is also the color of the sunshine and our kale flowers. I wish I had more yellow shirts to wear with my awesome new yellow and navy shoes.
Speaking of blue, I love these little blue flowers. This is a picture of the flax plants from last year, and I've used it before but it's so pretty! We have a small amount of new flax growing randomly around the yard this year, but not so many cute blue flowers. Blue is also the color of water and the sky, and who doesn't love a nice blue sky and the life-giving power of water?
Speaking of water, I love the water in this painting. Now, I'm not really a painter, but I enjoy trying to make pretty pictures like this for around the house. There's even a little purple in this painting, which I forgot to mention.
These are some little purple flowers growing in the yard. I'm not sure what they are, but they're so cute and a nice welcome change from the boring grass. I love it when nature leaves little surprises around.
Here is another nice surprise. A female cardinal was on the deck railing yesterday. She's so pretty. Some people might think she is drab, but I really love that tan/grey color. It is clean and calming. Her partner comes around often to gather food, and he is a very striking red. With that, I suppose we are back to where we started.

The topic for the blog off this week is color, and what is your favorite color. Clearly I cannot pick just one. I love all colors. It is a little-known fact that I have a large collection of shirts and a bit of a freaky habit of wearing the same color all week. This week is blue week. I'll be wearing blue every day until Monday, when purple week starts. Then it will be pink week, and peach week, and white, grey, black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, teal, and back to blue again. Actually, I skipped orange and yellow recently and added teal - so it does change over time. And I am trying to wear more black to seem more like an "architect." But I love colors. Bright colors, soft colors - they're all wonderful. I'll never be that person who wears all black every day, or any one color every day. I have to change it up, but in an organized and regimented way. hahaha

It will be really interesting to read about the other bloggers' favorite colors and their deeper thoughts about colors and/or color theory. Check them out with me!