Work in progress

I loved Gertie’s post the other day.  She is always an inspiration, but what I liked about this post wasn’t so much that it was inspiring, (which it definitely was) but that she made the comment:

I didn’t start my blog until after I turned 30, and I’ve recently been feeling so inspired creatively, like I’m getting closer to what I’m supposed to be doing. When I’m 40, maybe I’ll be even closer. I’m a work in progress, no doubt.

I think that as a young person, it’s hard to know how great getting older can be, especially in our youth-obsessed culture.  I don’t know if I’m noticing the trend of respect and, more than respect, admiration of age more because I feel like my age suits me in a very different way than it used to, or if there really is a trend.  I’ve enjoyed TLo’s posts about some of the beautiful older women gracing the pages of the fashion magazines.  I’m excited for my housemate, who’s quitting her job and moving across the country to go work on a farm, and just heard about another 30something who recently did the same thing and found the experience very rewarding.  Although my review last week at work was a little rough, this week went very well, and with the boyfriend and job going so well, and my decision last year (which I thought I blogged about, but I guess I didn’t) that I really like the way I look, I feel like it’s good to get older.  It’s not all about growing up, it’s about doing the things I want to be doing, and knowing that I’m doing the things I want to be doing.

Anyway, that being said, I’ve been spending all sorts of time on ancestry.com making a family tree (which I know my parents have done before, but it’s so cool to find ancestors in very old censuses, and I love seeing that although my family was always extremely working class, we were on occasion ribbon makers, silk weavers, engineer’s pattern makers, bakers, and green grocers).  I have lots of projects, including the new logo for our frisbee team, and my Lady Grey Coat – if I ever finish it it’s going to be too warm to wear – but I’m getting things done slowly but surely, like my new kitchen worm bin.  So, even though I know that sometimes I’m not doing my projects, I am doing the things I want to be doing.  Oh, and I really will take pictures of the party dress soon, because it turned out so well that I bought the Bridal Couture book that I had been renewing from the library!

So, with that little brain dump, I’ll go put some laundry in and get back to some of my works in progress, including me!

February 26, 2011 at 1:54 pm 1 comment

Winter Meals

When I was in grad school, I learned a trick from a friend for eating healthy homemade meals on a tight schedule. It wasn’t a big revelation, since I’d already tried it myself, but her method worked far better than mine. She had drawn up weekly meal plans, including a schedule, a grocery list, and a combination recipe so that all of the week’s dishes could be made in one coordinated cooking session, then stored in Tupperware ready to go out the door.

I have been doing a great clean up and organize effort this year, which has a way to go yet, but I thought I’d revisit her old meal plans the other day. They’re especially good in winter, since it’s not as easy to head to the garden or farmer’s market for fresh bits and pieces. When I looked at her old plans two weeks ago, though, I wasn’t that inspired, so I thought I’d do some new plans. My friend was much more concerned about variety than I am, though, so be forewarned that if you want more than four meals in your rotation, my meal plan is not for you. Here are my plans, which are sourced pretty much from Epicurious.com and smittenkitchen.com

White wine week:
My favorite dish of the week was Orzo with Shrimp, Feta Cheese, and White Wine, from Epicurious (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/107904?mbid=ipapp)
I also made a delicious chard and white bean stew (http://smittenkitchen.com/2011/01/chard-and-white-bean-stew/), and chicken and mushrooms in white wine sauce (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/1940?mbid=ipapp). Each of those three dishes called for white wine, and I finished the bottle with a dried fruit compote (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/231666?mbid=ipapp). To top it off, I bought a few extra carrots and a full bag of celery, plus some fresh tomatoes and lettuce and I made fresh green salads whenever it felt too wintery. I also steamed some broccoli so that I’d have another cooked green.

This week of food actually lasted closer to two weeks, and I didn’t get tired of eating anything. I did have an unfortunate incident with the pepper grinder and the stew, so finding whole peppercorns in the stew was probably the low point of the week, but using a whole bottle of wine and most of a package of thyme were great perks. Cooking for one can be difficult that way.

Green olives week:
This week, I’m planning to cook a moroccan stew, a barley risotto, and some lamb chops, with a side of escarole or other leafy wintery greens, and some cous cous, probably with raisins involved. I have some white beans left over from the previous cooking session, and the green olives and escarole carry nicely through the recipes. I’m going to do a bit more planning and substituting to make the shopping list more straightforward, but I think it will be another wonderful week (or two) of food.
http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/01/squash-and-chickpea-moroccan-stew/
http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/01/barley-risotto-with-beans-and-greens/
http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/06/lamb-chops-with-pistachio-tapenade/
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/351173?mbid=ipapp

Do you cook for a week at time? What are your favorite meal plans? Are you interested in having the shopping lists and combined recipes for my weeks? I’d love to hear your story if you try one of these two weeks of food.

January 23, 2011 at 11:59 pm 4 comments

A new direction

I’m thinking about taking this blog in a new direction.  I’ll start with this little lunchtime post.

I’ve been imagining what I could do with this fabric for a few months now:

Spring in the Alps from Gorgeous Fabrics

Then, today I was looking at TLo’s post on Monique Lhuillier’s pre-fall collection and saw this dress:

Monique Lhuillier Pre-Fall Dress

That seems like just the right thing for this fabric.  Although I’m still imagining that what I’d do would be in shirt form… but maybe both.

Images from Gorgeous Fabrics and Style.com

December 16, 2010 at 1:27 pm Leave a comment

Summer

A month has passed since my last post, and a lot has happened, to be sure.  The most notable of which must be the fact that I am gainfully employed, full time, as a designer at an architecture firm in Eugene!!!

Yes, that gets three exclamation points.  It’s been keeping me busy, which has resulted in the radio silence on this blog, and complete lack of effort on the portfolio website, but I can’t say that I’m too sorry about that.  As you may know, finding another job in Eugene wasn’t my intention, but all of the pieces kind of fell into place.  The women’s utimate team that seemed just out of reach for the past four years is finally coalecsing, and I felt very sad at the prospect of leaving town without having a season with them.  We came in second at Solstice, the tournament here in town, and we absolutely had a blast.  I also got a great new housemate, and hey, well, I got this job, and I really like it.

I’m working at Nir Pearlson Architect, and in the short time I’ve been there, we’ve submitted two projects for permitting.  Next week I’ll turn in the third, and I’ll do it by myself because Nir, my boss, is in Israel for the next two and a half weeks.  I’ll be manning the office alone, working on a few other projects and trying to keep everything going while Nir’s gone.  I think I’ll take the opportunity of the slight lull to make sure that my IDP hours for this job get counted, and to actually work on that online portfolio.

Summer in Eugene is pretty nice – I’m eating cherries as I type, and heading to a barbeque in an hour.  I’m enjoying working with Nir, and I know he’d like me to stick around a while longer and work on a few more jobs.  But although this job, this frisbee team, this housemate, and these cherries are fortuitous and fantastic, I still wonder how long it can last.

Up at Potlatch last week, I was reminded again of life in the city, and the different opportunities to take advantage of there.  Yesterday I spent the afternoon and evening with friends and we talked about San Francisco and Portland, and about living in the city.  I’m trying my best to be here, but, if you’ve been reading this blog, you know I’ve been having a tough time with that for some time.  I just want to peek ahead, find out where the plot’s going, but unfortunately that’s not an option.  So, I guess I just keep doing what I’m doing until it stops working.  And, I guess that after a few more weeks of just enjoying employed life,  I’ll start thinking again about the long-term plan again.

In the mean time, Potlatch was tons of fun, seeing all the little babies together a few weeks ago was fantastic,  I’m looking forward to Seaside and some sore beach legs, I can’t believe I get to play in Labor Day with my ladies, and I’m still hoping to head to Colorado to visit the brother.  I’m also hoping to get a few more hours of sewing in in the next few weeks because I keep buying patterns and fabric, so I keep needing to make beautiful things.  I’m catching up on Mad Men and thoroughly enjoying Friday Night Lights, and I’m trying to catch up with people I haven’t seen in a while, too, whether it be through email, phone calls, or unexpected visits.  So, in sum, life is full, and I’m going to do my best to get the most out of it.  I hope you’re doing the same – summer is so short, so love every minute of it!

July 11, 2010 at 5:36 pm Leave a comment

Rain, progress

I’m at home right now because it’s raining, and it has been for several days.  Usually I’d be at the frisbee fields, but having gone over there and seen that they were a little more lake-like than is optimal, I found out that our team postponed our game to mid-June.  I was looking forward to the social time, and to running around for a bit of exercise.

I’ve been quite focused the last few days, finally accomplishing some longstanding goals.  I completed my portfolio revisions to my satisfaction.  While I may still work on some of the diagrams I had in mind and didn’t have time to realize completely, I’m very happy to have updated the work to show a few more key skills and ideas.  In addition, I quickly put together a web portfolio.  I’ve wanted to do that for a while, but using GoLive was never that pleasant, and I always seemed to need workarounds to accomplish the actions I was trying to achieve.  While my new effort is elementary, and obviously blog based (I may yet shell out for the hosting so that it can just be rachelauerbach.com and not rachelauerbach.wordpress.com), it gets the job done and has been fun to produce.  It was always tedious to get anything made in GoLive, let alone something that looked even remotely decent, so it’s nice that making this new portfolio was fun and easy, and that I know enough from the old days of html to make it a little better than basic.

[note.  I’ve just been trying to add a simple slideshow to my portfolio blog and have been foiled.  WordPress doesn’t allow javascript, so even though I could script exactly what I want, I am stuck with only being able to use the somewhat clunky slideshows they allow with shortcode.  Maybe it is worth it to pay for the hosting… or maybe I’ll just have long galleries.]

The other big milestone for the week was sending out several applications today, all to firms that are quite interesting to me.  It’s been very isolating to not have a job, and especially now that all of my friends who are in school are working overtime to get ready for finals, I sometimes feel like even my social life doesn’t make up for sitting alone all day, every day, working in front of the computer.  Now that I’ve got things to send, though, I can go back to a more varied routine, with time for sewing and reading.  I can also set up some more informational interviews, and hopefully something will progress to the point where I get hired and am once again part of a team – where at least I’ll be sitting with other people all day, every day, even if I’m also working on the computer all day, every day!

On a final note, though I delayed it because I didn’t go back to school this year, I’m doing my annual rereading of Atmospheres and Thinking Architecture now.  So many projects floating in my mind!

May 26, 2010 at 7:29 pm Leave a comment

Waking up from hibernation

Another two part post – some musings on generation divides to follow the life update.

It’s funny that I just bought furniture for my apartment, since I’m planning to move.  If that move is to somewhere on I-5, I’m good, if not, I’m probably contributing to the awful amount of particleboard in our nation’s landfills.

I cleaned a lot this past weekend, and with the organizing and the beautiful weather, I feel a bit like I’m waking from hibernation.

I realized that I’d sort of been snowed under, with things all over my floor literally preventing me from moving freely.  I subscribe to the idea that a real housecleaning can do wonders for the psyche, and that making doors fully operable and floors clear to walk on can help to make paths in our lives clearer, too.  I realized, too, that the snowed-underness is somewhat chronic for me, but that it might be worse because there were a few things I’d never really taken care of from graduation, plus getting back from LA added an unfinished unpacking to the pile, plus entering into the Cavin Family Traveling Fellowship delayed the cleaning another week.

So, I finally took my car to get washed, which was really so easy that I will totally do it again, and I finally replaced my little old art tacklebox with a set of clear plastic drawers that also hold my office supplies and my sewing supplies.  It’s on wheels, and it almost makes me glad that my desk doesn’t have drawers because it’s great to be able to roll it around as an extra work surface during intense sewing/architecture moments.  I got a new trashcan for our bathroom, our first of which mysteriously disappeared a few months ago.

I also got a bookcase.  I have two wonderful little white bookcases that are painted wood deals from a vintage store in Springfield.  I’ve been watching craigslist on and off, and considering that I went to every vintage/antique/goodwill store I know of in Eugene and Springfield this summer to get those beauties, I knew that chances were slim of me finding a third.  Oh, it was sad to put those plastic dowels through that laminated skin, to nail that cardboard onto the back of that board, but it is amazing to have my books off the floor.

So, I’m set up to conquer the world, by which I mean update my cut sheet and send out applications, redo my last IDP installment, send in my taxes and census form, and finally file away the little bits and pieces that have been floating around wondering where they belong for oh so long now.  If only it wasn’t so beautiful outside.  And, if only I didn’t realize that I’ve been spending way too much time by myself… although with a lot of folks on spring break and a promise of rain next week, I might be successful yet.  Wish me luck in taking on all of those looming tasks – I think it’s going to feel pretty great to knock them out, just like it felt to finally finish furnishing my rooms with the things they were lacking.

Oh, and I didn’t get all new things.  Doing that laundry in the basement, I checked to see if the trashcan had somehow walked downstairs and discovered a somewhat homely but perfectly serviceable coffee table behind what appeared to be an entertainment center.  Yes, it’s got a laminate top, but parts of it were wood, and it was free, and it will go back in the basement when I move.  After six months without a coffee table, it’s awesome to have one.

OK, on to my ponder.  Today I was looking at the Harvard Business Review for graphic design inspiration.  I know, it sounds as bad as it was, but really, I needed to see how they set up their cases, since the cases we’re writing for work are based loosely on their model.  They may not have the best designer on staff, but man can they write a case!  I got distracted by the task at hand by actually reading the article, which was about differences in Gen X and Gen Y approaches to the workplace.  What’s somewhat funny to me is that I think I’ve read the article before, and it’s totally cheesy, and it’s definitely based on caricatures of the stereotypes of the two generations, but nonetheless I was hooked.

I frequently find business writing compelling for several reasons.  I want to be a good employee, and if it’s in my cards in the future a good employer or manager.  I also think that there’s something fascinating about the way that business writing hovers between applied anthropology, sociology, psychology, and economics.  I guess the third reason I find business writing compelling is that the people doing the writing know that they’ve got to be compelling, so they generally relate interesting stories, make clear assertions about those stories, develop catchy ways to remember their information, and keep it brief – in other words, they write to be compelling, and the good ones succeed.  Oh, and generally, they don’t go off on tangents like this.

That first reason, though, was what I first thought of when I read the case today.  I saw some similarities between the situation described in the case and my own situation at work, and thought that I might adjust the way I was considering certain parts of the situation.  I also thought that I might be more sensitive to some of the things the case brought to light in my job search.

Then, I thought about that job search, and how this whole internal discussion I’ve had about taking advantage of the downturn to do something more innovative and interesting totally reflected the attributes of the Gen Y thinking presented in the case.  I realized that part of my hesitancy in pursuing that kind of new “job” or whatever it would be that would make living possible as I was doing awesome architecture stuff that was good for people and the environment and let me draw and build and talk to people – that hesitancy comes from my uncertainty that Gen Y thinking is all that good at making stuff in the real world.  It seems clear that it’s got some benefits – open source techniques work for my friend who makes shoes and for some of the bike companies I admire greatly.  Certainly Gen Y thinking is effective in the realm of ideas and technology.  Yet I wonder if Gen Y thinking, as outlined in the article, is compatible with building things, which takes a long time, requires a lot of players and investors, and is meant to last a long time, too.

Here’s the thing.  Part of me is on board with the revolution.  I’m ready to use better platforms to collaborate more effectively.  I’d like to keep drawing by hand, to keep talking in person, but I also think we’re on the verge of having way better modeling software – software that incorporates more of the benefits of hand drawing while it dramatically increases the ability of the modeler to make excellent, easy-to-construct building – and I think that videoconferencing will become more accessible, but more to the point, hard and software will improve our face-to-face meetings, helping us record our thoughts better and launch from those thoughts more effectively.  I also think that design must be at least partially open to the crowd’s influence if it’s going to be relevant, and I think things from coordinating construction to monitoring energy use will all transform in positive ways if we think about them differently.

But part of me thinks that there’s something to be said for putting in your time and going through the established routes.  There is something essential to me about knowing the fundamentals.  And even as I write this, I realize that in some ways, it’s knowing the fundamentals and being tied to those “proper routes” that loose us the ability to look at problems freshly, to hear the voice of the novice that revolutionizes the game.  Fundamentally, I think the same thing is happening in architecture as in environmental change – the status quo is difficult to disrupt.  Building codes and contractual setups change slowly, protecting us from rash decisions, but they can also stymie valid change.  With environmental change, the political and physical obstacles are deeper and wider, but again, they slow change that we can envision, even if we have difficulty implementing it.

Anyways, in the end, I wonder if us Gen Yers, with our impatience; disrespect for pecking orders, lines of authority, and proper protocol; need for feedback; with our life experienced through machines and need for entertainment and instant gratification, I wonder if we can really make great things.  Will our things forever be left unfinished?  Will they be two-dimensional?  Will they speak only to the now?  Or, will they be made faster and better by people who have more time to spend with their families and friends, by people who find that their work is fun and rewarding and challenging, and who tell each other when they’ve gotten it right?

I also wonder if there even is a real, measurable difference, or if it’s just the idealism of the young rubbing up against the conservativeness of the old, dressed up in new phrases, with the specter of technology floating around to scare us all a little.

Well, that’s not where I thought this would end, and not even close to what I thought I would say, but it’s time for me to get off the couch before the day ends.  I’m glad that spring is coming here, complete with adorable little birds at my window, and I hope that it brings even a tiny bit of resolution on the pressing matters in my mind.

March 18, 2010 at 6:24 pm 1 comment

A strange place

Here are a few things that are rolling around in my brain:

Accumulation and accretion, with the world just getting more and more full of things. And then, the passing on, too.

Desire becoming reality, and other things also becoming real – with my growing perfume collection, I am sampling many scents, and sometimes feel as though there’s something real there. When I taste wine, I often get very physical words coming to my mind – wine for me can be round, soft, or tall. I’m not getting that the same way with perfumes, but I think that if I smell for long enough I’ll be able to articulate things a bit more. I’ve been enjoying the strangeness of them, the leather and sweat and smoke. My favorites are the ones that surprise you over and over again, making you think that there’s a corner somewhere close by that you’ll turn and find something real. The one I’m wearing right now, though – Patou 1000 – I lean in to get a deeper draw, and it smells like someone peed on me. Weird. I can’t get enough from 5 inches out, but right up close, whew! Yet, I’m going to put a bit more on before I go out.  Wherever that corner is, it’s a strange place.

Plus, trying on all these perfumes is probably just a little bit of an intensification to that who am I and what am I doing here feeling that I haven’t been able to shake, even when for a little while, I thought I might have that answer. Today I was useless, and far from figuring out any answers, I just avoided the question altogether. Thought I was making some progress, but still pretty lost on the whole subject of what to put the majority of my energy into. I can’t help but think, though, that at some point this question will be answered, and that a bit of psychic reworking never hurt anyone in the long run. Watching a lot of the videos at the99percent.com has/hasn’t helped.

The conversations that we have with ourselves – I saw Moon last night, and that little phrase kept rattling around in my head.  It’s a must see, and I felt like it was perfectly resolved, despite what many of the reviewers said at the time.  It made me very sad, but then, I also felt very appreciative afterward.  I imagine that’s a part of what I liked about A Serious Man, too.

I’m heading out, and already running late.  I’ve been thinking of several of these things for a while, now, though, so had to get a little ramble out.  No doubt you’ll hear more about perfumes, accretion, and life courses soon, whether or not you wanted to.

Oh, and props to the President for a sweet speech on Wednesday, and for finally having what NYT liked to the Prime Minister’s Question Time, (the reference to which seems to have disappeared from this article) which I have always hoped would happen in our own country.

January 29, 2010 at 7:21 pm 1 comment

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