Friday, October 9, 2015

time to blog

Hello readers, do I have any readers left?

When I wasn't working very much or at all, especially when I was waiting for immigration, I had all kinds of time to write. I remember the days when I had the leisure time to blog about all the different kinds of scissors I owned. Those were the days! Now I barely have time to think about blogging but it doesn't mean I have given up on it entirely. In fact, I have now set myself a weekly reminder in my work calendar to update my blog. Not that I will actually get to it every week, but this is a start.

On the whole, things are going very well for me and Dan. I am just half a year away from finishing this non-thesis Master's degree in Biomedical Informatics and then I will be let loose into the world to find some sort of job. I don't know yet what that will be, there is just so much opportunity out there that I think it will be difficult to decide. We do know we plan to stay put in the Salt Lake valley for  a while - I love it here. This is the best place I have ever lived. So my career options are: University of Utah Health Care (basically where I am now), Veteran's Affairs (I have a partial appointment there), Intermountain Health, and industry. I haven't formally started looking yet, I will do that launch next month at the AMIA Symposium and then really start hustling in 2016.

This symposium is our industry's biggest academic convention. It's in San Francisco this year. I haven't been since 2013 when I saved up my tips from bartending in North Carolina and took the Amtrak to DC, I was determined to get back into the field. I'm going this year because I had a poster accepted and then I won some travel awards to allow me to attend. The poster is about a really interesting project that we had some excellent results with, something I continue to work on with user interface design. Who know I would end up doing user interface design? I'm doing all kinds of things I never thought I would/could and I have to say it's been an excellent experience.

It is sort of funny - I received a Master's from the University of Victoria in 2009 in Health Information Science, and this is essentially the same degree - Biomedical Informatics - but in some ways this program is more robust and I am entrenched in the American health care system. I have had excellent training and mentorship, tons of opportunities and have made a great many friendships.

So 2016 will be a big year for me. On February 4, I will be eligible to apply for US Citizenship (three years!). Six weeks later I will turn 42 on the full moon lunar eclipse, so I will basically know the meaning of life by then, right? Then I will graduate and get an awesome new job and maybe we will find a way to buy a house? Next year holds a lot of promise.

Socially, we have become known as people who know our way around food and the garden. We have built up really a lot of reserves (I grew enough cucumbers so that I won't need to make mustard pickle again until at least 2017) and seeds. People know I'm a gardener and just give me seeds all the time. I can't turn them down. I have also been saving seeds so at this rate I have enough for a field of sunflowers, marigolds and calendula, among other things. I have nurtured kombucha mothers and sourdough starters and have been able to give them away and teach others how to make stuff. These things are coming second nature to me now and this kind of sharing has gone a long way to help build social capital.

I have been able to make and grow a lot of really amazing friendships in the nearly two years since we have been in SLC. A number of those friendships began early on in our time here, and they have been incredibly important for my mental health. We are all busy people but it just seems so easy to get together and do stuff, even if it's just running into the neighbor by chance and having a great conversation. We have gotten to know a lot of our neighbors and it's nice feeling that level of security - we all have each other's back.

I haven't been knitting much since I have been here - between school, work, and gardening/preserving, there really hasn't been time. I accept that it's a part of my life/identity that will always be with me but other things have to take precedence right now.

Sam is doing great. Dan has added ramps to her scratching posts so it's easier for her to get up and down. We have also added steps to the sofas and bed so she doesn't have to claw her way up. She's 13 and has sore hips, so she doesn't jump up like she used to. I took her to the vet for a check up in August and she received a clean bill of health. Not only that, but everyone at the clinic gushed at how beautiful she is. Of course they did!

I have a list of things I plan to write about (and of course I'm willing to take requests) so I won't go into too much detail right now on all our adventures. Just know I am trying, I do plan to keep writing. Someday this may come in handy... 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Sam being cute

I've been thinking for some time of having a blog post of just photos of Sam. You would be amazed at just how many photos of her there are.

All without caption. I am going to try to blog more and sometimes that will mean just photos. Was inspired to write this post because she is sitting on my lap right now and I'm sort of stuck. Enjoy! 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Camping trip to Idaho

Oh look I remember how to blog!

On Saturday morning despite me feeling completely crappy, we were determined to go camping. It was the 4th of July, Independence Day, and Dan never gets Saturdays off from work so we had to take advantage of it.

My sister was texting me all day from her adventure with our mum and her kids at the beach where it was 34 Celsius. I converted our temperature and it was about the same.

Stopped at the Greek restaurant in Logan for lunch. It was nice to have falafel!

Dan had the beef shawarma with Green lemon rice.

Oh hey it's Mr. Cupcake in Idaho!

We went to a campsite called Gravel Creek. Small campground, not many campers, stinky bathroom, and all of the mosquitoes in Idaho were there. Despite our 25% DEET Deep Woods Off, we both now suffer with at least three dozen bites a piece. The nice thing though was that there were No Fireworks Allowed and, given that it was the 4th of July, that was precisely what we wanted.

We love our truck tent.

Everywhere we went, we left just before the rain hit. Also: on our route we popped into Wyoming for a minute. I bought lottery tickets! Maybe we will win $70 million! (FYI there is no gambling in Utah).

Here we are at the Craters of the Moon! This was a pretty awesome place. No mosquitoes! Sort of windy! It's nice to see lots of people still tenting.

We started on a walk around the big crater. Pretty spectacular scenery. This area saw lots of volcanic activity between 14mya and 2,100 years ago. Nothing much grows now, lots of different types of igneous volcanic rock. Obligatory goofy Dan and Stacey photo:

This trail was 3.5 miles. We didn't know that when we started. Word to the wise: if you plan to hike on volcanic rock, DO NOT wear sandals. Unless you like blisters and having flesh-piercing rocks lodge themselves into your sweaty feet and crying. 

Lots of tiny desert plants growing in just a few spaces. 

Once was molten lava.

Lava lava

Dan says this is a lava tube. His dad Paul was a radio astronomer before he retired and spent some time working on Hawaii. They have volcanoes there, so when Dan visited all those years ago, he learned really a lot about volcanoes and was thus an excellent tour guide for this.

Because why wouldn't you wear a saucy sun dress while hiking on volcanic rock in sandals?

We got to the end of this trail and it was nowhere near the beginning. We didn't have the map with us. My phone only had 23% and GPS could not locate us. So we just started walking to where we thought the campground was. We discovered later that we took a wrong turn and instead of 2 miles back, it was four. So we had just done 3.5 miles and my feet were already sliced up from the rocks getting in my sandals, Why not walk for another 80 minutes? Lucky there were no bugs, the weather was fine, and we made it back to camp before the sun set. Dan made us an excellent dinner and we joyfully went to bed expecting a good sleep.

We had the highest spot in the campground. Awesome view, but now we know that it is also subject to the most wind. The fly to our tent was flapping much of the night, right in our ears, so we didn't get much sleep after all.

The best coffee is the coffee you make when camping.

Who needs blocks when you can just use nearby random materials to level your truck? Dan is a pro at this.

I almost forgot to take photos of Mr. Cupcake.

Farewell Craters of the Moon!

Monday, March 23, 2015

My 41st birthday

Last year, for my 40th, we had so much fun at the Natural History Museum of Utah, I decided that I want to do something like that - cultural - every year for my birthday. Today we went to the Living Planet Aquarium in Draper. It opened about a year ago but we were waiting for all the crowds to die down before we went. And then we forgot. But first!

Dan made me a terrific breakfast of corned beef hash. We had corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day, the anniversary of the day we met (eight years ago!), and there was so much leftover we decided to have it for breakfast too.

The next thing we did was to get a family photo of me, Dan, Sam, and Mr. Cupcake. Everyone but Sam was excited about it.

Then we got in the van and drove to Draper. We were really looking forward to being there on a weekday when it was less likely to have lots of children. WRONG. There were school buses full of them. And pregnant moms with their little ones (this is Utah, after all). People referring to sturgeons as sharks and caimans as alligators and crocodiles. Anyway, we found lots of good stuff.

 Anaconda. 14 feet long.

 Electric eel.

 Toucan. He was eating and I caught a video but he was behind netting so the pictures all have string blurring them.
 Tiny yellow frog.
 Another yellow frog.

 Otters! They were fun to watch. They move pretty fast though.
 This was the first time I had ever seen penguins. They all had zip ties on their wings and we didn't know why. I'll have to contact the aquarium and ask.
 Sea horses
 Pipe fish
 Sleeping sea horse
 Cuttle fish. He and Dan had quite a long conversation including posting and lots of color changes.

When I opened up Google a few minutes ago, I saw this!

Just this minute Dan is serving me up a steak curry so I have to go eat my birthday dinner now. No cake for me, I'm losing weight again and can't afford cake calories!