Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trick or Treat!

It's a rainy Halloween here in Oxford. Some neighborhoods are postponing trick-or-treating until tomorrow, but so far Oxford is still on.

Ted and I have been looking forward to having trick-or-treaters come to our door. For the seven Halloweens that we lived in Boulder, we never had a single trick-or-treater. Not one.

We lived in a condo, and the first year we thought we'd get a ton, since it's easy pickings! I mean, one building and something like 50 doors to knock on! But nope. We stopped buying candy after the second Halloween of no-shows.

Now that we're surrounded by neighborhood children, we're prepared with candy once again! But just to be safe, we've only bought candy that we want to eat, in case we end up with lots of leftovers. I chose Reeses Peanut Butter Pumpkins and Ted chose Almond Snickers (sorry, kids with nut allergies).

Hopefully some costumed kids will stop by to appreciate our classic jack-o-lantern and get some treats!

UPDATE: We've already had 8 trick-or-treaters!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pictures From University of Toledo

As promised yesterday, here are a few photos of our quick trip to the University of Toledo yesterday.

The fall colors were especially pretty on the
drive to and from Toledo. It took us a little
over 3 hours to get there.
I had myself a nice little set-up in the back of the lecture room. Just like
being a student again.
Here's Professor Holland presenting his paper on (surprise!) oil and gas
in Dagestan.
There was quite a large audience.

After the presentations we walked around the University of Toledo campus. It was a cold, windy day, but the campus is actually quite pretty. The school is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Almost Princetonesque, wouldn't you say?

And that was it! We got there Friday evening and left Saturday afternoon.

We thought the cats would be glad to see us when we got home, but Milo sulked all night and only forgave us this morning. Guess that will teach us to leave them alone for a night. Spoiled cats.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Focus on Geography

Comin' at you from Toledo, Ohio today, where I've accompanied my husband as he presents at a Geography Conference.

I'm actually sitting in the back of Ted's session. That's right. I'm totally crashing their party. Now, if you've never thought about geography as a discipline, let me give you the quick run-down (this is what I've learned over years of being married to a geographer).

Like sociology or anthropology, geography is a very broad discipline. In fact, many geographers are almost indistinguishable from anthropologists and sociologists. For example, the woman presenting right now is writing her dissertation on the governance of (a homemade craft-selling site, if you're unfamiliar - check it out!). Also on the docket for today: Place Branding and Locational Determinants of the Craft Brewing Industry in the United States.

Geographers study all aspects of place, including the land, the people, the borders, the governments, the environment... everything! Ted, for example, studies the Buddhist revival in Russia. At first glance, you'd think he was a religion major, but it all relates to geography somehow... I think it has something to do with the use of public spaces for religious markers such as datsans and pagodas.

While Ted was a student in Boulder, we had geographer-friends who studied everything from the Pine Beetle epidemic to the ice core in Antarctica. The nice thing about hanging out with geographers is that there is a lot of variety in their knowledge and interests! The bad thing is that I often have no clue what they're talking about....

Anyway, if you would like to appear highly educated the next time you find yourself in conversation with a geographer, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Geographers are not cartographers. They don't make maps. At least that's not their focus.
  • Geographers do not study rocks (that's geologists - don't beat yourself up, lots of people make that mistake).
  • Ask them about their methods. If you're at a social gathering, make sure you have a full plate of hors d'oeuvres and a drink, as this could take awhile.
  • Last, remember that geographers are people, too. They just think about the world differently.

Whoa! Ted's up, and he's throwing us a curveball. Apparently he's presenting on offshore oil and gas production in Dagestan... I thought we were here to talk about Buddhism. 

Huh. Guess I should start listening, as I have not heard about this project yet... I'll be back later with pictures. Hope you learned something about the discipline of geography!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Where the Streets Have No Names*... But the Houses Do

Oxford is a college town; it probably would not exist if it weren't for the university. As such, it has the usual college town quirks, but there is one thing that is unique to Oxford.

The houses have names.

The students have claimed all the prime real estate around here (or should I say investors have - the students just rent), and most have nailed signs to their house's facade to tell the world what they're all about.

Many signs proclaim location, such as "We live on Beech Street":

Or, "You are on Main Street":

Others invite you to come imbibe beverages:

Some are subtle:

Many are not:

On Church Street... get it?

Some are clever:

Those are actual mirrors on the portholes. Color me impressed.

Some clearly need a Fine Arts roomie:

Whether I get it...

... or I don't...

UPDATE: My brother explained this one to me. You've heard of drinking so much that you 'black out,' right? Well, as the name suggests, this is like that but with snippets of your evening still preserved in your memory. It goes kinda like this: "I remember being at Sarah's house... and then somehow I ended up in Kevin's backyard.... I kind of remember peeing on someone's doorstep... and were we singing karaoke at some point?"


...these signs make my day. Every time I walk through town I take a different route, just to see the character that each street holds.

*The streets actually do have names, as Ted pointed out to me. The title is a U2 reference. Just wanted to be clear (for all the geographers out there).

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A New Look!

Now that I've had a few months to learn how Blogger works, I decided that today was the day I'd give my blog a customized look.

Nuthin' fancy; just Minnie, cloud-gazing from the back porch.

I'd like to think that she's contemplating her new life here in Ohio, thinking about all the changes and "resets" of her own.

But she's probably just enjoying the shade on a warm afternoon in August.

Hope you like the new look!

Fall on the Farm

One of the things I look forward to the most in the fall is visiting the pumpkin patch

When I was a kid, we used to go to this pumpkin patch that had the coolest hay maze. The hay bales were stacked up to form a labyrinth, then the top was covered with a heavy tarp that made the maze completely dark inside. There were little windows cut into the hay bales here and there to yield just enough light so that you wouldn't run face-first into a wall of scratchy hay (though that also happened sometimes). My friends and I would hide in the darkest corners of the maze then jump out and scare unsuspecting people as they felt their way through. The younger kids were especially fun to scare.

Can you tell I was a trouble-maker?

Along with a hay maze, a good pumpkin patch has to have a hay ride out to the pumpkin field, hot apple cider, caramel apples, and farm animals. Corn mazes are optional.

Surprisingly, I had to search around for a farm here that met all my requirements! I stopped in at one farm to inquire about their fall activities, and the woman there excitedly highlighted their corn maze and the hay ride out to feed the cows (while downplaying the fact that they didn't even have a pumpkin patch). Pfsh! As if!

But then I found the perfect place in Loveland, OH - only an hour away! When the drive looks like this, I don't mind being in the car.

We finally arrived, and Blooms and Berries Farm had it all:


Isn't it so quaint?


Flowers! So many flowers!

Gourds! Gourds! Gourds!

These are called Apple Gourds. Don't they look like giant apples?

A hay maze! (Though decidedly less cool than the one I grew up with). This one's built for sissies.

Baby farm animals! Awwwww!

(All kinds of farm animals....)

We picked out a few decorative gourds for our porch, a couple blue pumpkins called Jarrahdales (I hear they make great pies!), and one of the good old-fashioned jack-o-lantern variety for carving.

There was one thing this pumpkin patch had that was better than the one I knew as a child. And that was the Bucking Cow Train. Only a video can do it justice:

We left the farm happy, with 5 pumpkins and a caramel apple.

Still geekin' out in my glasses.

If you haven't done so already, make a date to head out to the pumpkin patch! It's an autumn must.