Woke to the sound of howler monkeys. Thought at first it was a pack of hounds in the vicinity but... then realized monkeys. This place is rainy and cool, but seems more like Italy than Costa Rica in some ways. Hilly, not so jungly in the beach way. Lots of flowers and birds and tropical plants though. Today we went to visit the volcano on the other side of the lake (We are at Lake Arenal) and a hanging bridge thing and a hot spring. This is a different Costa Rica and I look forward to exploring it on the last day of 2010. Happy New Year everyone.


We left the coast today for a house near Lake Arenal and a volcano. It was sad to say goodbye to my sister and her family.

This was my first Christmas with my sister. Ever. We grew up in separate countries not even knowing each other existed. I'd heard rumors of her as a child but it wasn't until we were about 29 that we found out about each other. Yes, we were both 29. We are the same age. OK, one of us is a bit older but I'm not telling.

She and her husband have three beautiful, talented, artistic, and insightful daughters. We enjoyed watching the cousins get to know each other better this week. I hope it isn't too many more years before I see her again.

We cleaned up and packed this morning. It is hot and so humid -everything is damp. Yesterday the five of us went snorkeling off Cano Island, a 90 minute boat ride from shore, and I don't have photos of that. Today we will spend all day driving across the interior of Costa Rica. Wonder what it will be like.


Today we had quite an adventure going into the town of Uvita. Unpaved potholed red dirt roads with no road signs- dirty and crowded. Almost ran out of gas. Exhausting. If not for finding a really good Italian restaurant owned by a real Italian I would have crashed and burned.

Here are some photos of some houses we saw today.


Went progging today by myself.


We are right here, by the way, in case you need us. There are no road signs or road names in Costa Rica so I thought this might help. That little yellow square is the pueblo Dominical.


Today we got up REALLY early to get to the Manuel Antonio National Park before the quota for the day was reached. We saw all sorts of monkeys, sloths, lizards (big ones), and hiked in 90 degree heat. The beach was beautiful there too. Here are some critters we saw in the wild today... See if you can name them all!


What a funny Christmas! Jes took this photo Christmas morning of our house.

We spent the whole day on the beach. The rest of the crew went surfboarding while I played on the beach with my 5 year old niece. Hot sand, clear skies, people everywhere celebrating in the shade and sand. Photo is of the family getting ready for their surfing lessons.

My niece is so photogenic- I taught her how to use my camera and FlipCam and she built a fort in the sand.


Christmas Eve sound byte...


Our house is right on the ocean. This ocean. We have it all to ourselves. About a mile up the beach is the little surfing village of Dominical. Dirt roads, shacks, some hippies and backpackers... Mostly locals. Really rustic. We had a giant lunch at a restaurant there today. Walked up the beach and back. All the restaurants are outdoors here. No walls, just roofs. This place takes some getting used to. It is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Hot, humid, overcast and rainy today.

Late this afternoon we visited a reptile "zoo" and saw all kinds of snakes and lizards and turtles. Oh, and flowers. Here are some of our sights...


Today we drove to the Pacific. On the way we stopped to check out the local fauna. There were dozens of these under the bridge over the Rio Tarcoles. We parked and walked to the bridge and looked down... Woah!

It's beautiful here. Stunning. The house is amazing and the ocean is in the back yard. Coconuts are germinating right on the beach.

I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the rocks and the waves, and spent all afternoon playing in the surf. In my clothes- the airline lost my baggage. It got shipped to Mexico so I await...


In flight to Costa Rica!


Oh gosh, we woke up this morning in snowy Chicago, took a shuttle to Midway and a flight to Atlanta. In the international terminal there was a going away party for the troops. There was food and a band and Boy Scouts giving out goodie bags. Very moving.

Dan and I tried to walk the entire airport but only got concourses A and E done in an hour. Big airport, Hartsfield International.

So now, unbelievably, I am on the flight to Costa Rica using the in-flight wifi. Cool! We are all well, excited about what adventures lie ahead.


Today we drove to Indianapolis first to drop off Frisbee with his cousins Roxie, Maisie, Bliss, and the kittens. It was really snowy up there too. Then we headed for Chicago and checked into our hotel. We went to dinner at Giordano's -one of Dan's favorites from college days. We are up late waiting for Jes's flight from Denver to land. Tomorrow, Costa Rica!






Still ice. Squirt doesn't seem bothered by it, but he did help clear a path from the house to the studio. Spent the day packing for our trip. It snowed again this evening. Crazy weather. I'm looking forward to summer in two days. Summer in Costa Rica!



Squirt came in the house this afternoon with a 3 foot long icicle. I tried to take a picture of him with it, but my macro lens was still on the camera and I just got his beautiful face. He was giving me a smirk because he thought it was really stupid to stand outside with an icicle for a photo. "Don't put this on Facebook" he said. I didn't. This is a blog!

12-19-10 ice sculptures





The ice has stayed frozen on the trees and today I knew I had to make some art from it. Spent the day doing odd things to get ready for our trip. Shopped, wrapped presents, boxed up things for shipping- which I will have to do tomorrow. Aren't these beautiful?




Another cold cold day in Kentucky. Dan scraped the car for me and I actually braved the icy roads to go turn in my annual review binder. On the way home while at the grocery I got a call from a colleague in Virginia. The National Science Foundation is very very close to funding our million dollar grant proposal. They wanted very minor changes and explanations about our budget so that they could "move the proposal forward." I hope that means what I think it means. Luckily I was able to get my grants person on the phone and make the changes before the end of the working day. Also got another NSF grant proposal finished today. I've got two proposals going in next month and possibly one being funded any day now. So exciting!

So, the photos. Isn't the one of Aza and Dan and Frisbee adorable? They didn't see it coming. They had just said to me, "When are you going to update your blog? You haven't updated it in 2 weeks! We want to see it!" So, I went and got my camera. Squirt was lying on the floor in front of the wood stove getting warm, but he didn't want a photo of that on the blog. It's so cozy in the living room when the fire is blazing. But there aren't enough nice places to sit.

Oh, the coffee. Squirt must have decided that his energy drinks were too expensive. He got in the car and drove to the store and came home with this gallon of ground coffee. I got his goat by saying, "Why did you buy decaf?" just to watch him freak out a bit. Still working around the clock on this video project. He made six cups and drank them black in one sitting. ok....





We had an ice storm. Squirt spent a couple hours trying to get all the ice off the driveway, bless his heart. Aza cleaned the kitchen and it looked so good I just had to take a photo of it. I've got awesome kids. Found out today that Squirt got a 4.0 this semester!!! YAY! And Aza got officially accepted to the master's program at UK. I worked from home all day on my new course I'll teach spring semester. It's called spring semester but since it starts in the dead of winter it's more like winter quarter was when I was back at Auburn. It was a very productive day.



LONG day. Had breakfast at Magee's Bakery at 7:30am to interview a candidate for our new department. We act fast! Then I gave a final exam. Then I had a department meeting. Then I had a college faculty meeting. Then we interviewed the candidate again. Whew! Then, on the way home I had to go to the grocery. Squirt really wanted me to survey his favorite beverage so he could do a price comparison. He's been burning the midnight oil working on a special project for the university- a video about STEM education, ironically enough. So, these energy drinks are pretty expensive. I could use one this evening. Exhausted by 8pm.



Ok, I know this is not a great picture. But it represents a great day. First, we had a lot of snow last night so my review session was postponed until 11am. Good. Then I worked all afternoon until 2:30 when we walked across the street to the University Senate meeting. Me, Mags, Miss March, CJ, Miss January, and my hall next-door-neighbors J&B. Oh, and the Dean and the department chair and an Associate Dean. We were going to sit in on the senate vote on our new Department of STEM Education. Google that. You won't find much. We are going to be the second real STEM Education department in the USA. The other one is in Massachusetts and the one at ODU that they call one really isn't. It's about fashion merchandising and stuff.

The vote was in favor! The motion carried! Now for a stamp of approval from the Provost (who was at this meeting with the President of the university)and we will be a new department.

Ok, so this picture. We went out to dinner to celebrate at my favorite restaurant in town. Afterwards I just had to capture the moment with my iPhone, which takes sucky photos indoors at night. These lovely ladies are all Dr. So-and-so with Ph.D.s from fancy universities, but to me they're my friends, colleagues, and "sisters of STEM."





We got a bunch more snow. I went outside and set my camera to manual focus and focused somewhere in the air and took flash photos. The Dean of the College of Education had a party this afternoon and it was actually really nice. I had a good time. Talked to some folks I don't see too often, ate some delicious food, and really enjoyed myself. The only thing I didn't like was picking out an outfit. I don't own ANY holiday outfits.



It is so cold in this house, I've had to sleep in a hoodie this week. Actually, it's a nice thing sleeping in a hoodie. Here are the benefits:
1. Your head stays warm which keeps your whole body warmer because you lose a bunch of thermal energy from your head.
2. It covers your ears so you don't hear the sirens and trains and squeaky floors as much.
3. Your hair stays neater and you might be able to skip a hair shampoo in the morning.

My friend Mags had a party tonight and we had so much fun. Awesome food, great friends, candles everywhere, cozy house. She had chili and just tons of other things to choose from. I ate three chocolate covered marshmallow dreidels. Mmmmm....