Tag Archives: Northern Arizona University

A Celebration and a Road Trip

16 Jun

I have forgotten how tiring Commencement Day can be, after all I am a dinosaur and things of the past (my Commencement at NAU) sometimes elude my memories. We got to campus by 9.30am, looking for M1 in queue for a quick photo before making our way towards Reser Stadium and it was already packed.

We couldn’t get a spot at the lower section we wanted which was right behind School of Agriculture but we managed to get that same area at one level up. It was quite a challenge to find M1 but her decorated mortar board helped.

The ceremony took so long because there were so many speeches, several times the three of us dozed off. We learnt that this commencement, OSU has 7,492 students graduating! Wow. This figure is inclusive of their other campus and online programs, on top of all the three degrees – PhDs, Masters and Bachelors. However on the field today, there’s slightly over 4,000 graduating students in attendance to receive their certificates. Very impressive numbers nonetheless for the 150th Commencement.

We got home at 3.00pm and then we had to go out again for a private tea party celebration hosted by M1’s professor. Spent a good two and a half hours there before we had to excuse ourselves for our family celebratory dinner. We had tapas and dessert which were all bursting with strong flavors. Loved the choices we selected.

Our tapas and drinks

Dessert was oh so yummy!

When all obligations are done and checked off the list, we had to pack for tomorrow as we will start our road trip! Yay. It will be fun because they are places that we’ve never been to before and M1 will play host to show us. After all the excitement died down and packing done, it was 1.15am before I called it a night.

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Greetings From the US

13 Jun

Finally by noon, we arrived yesterday after that delayed last leg departure and what a long and tiring trip it has been for us. If I counted from the time we left home for KLIA at six in the evening on Tuesday, and arrived at PDX airport by Wednesday noon in the US, meaning it’s 3.00am Thursday back home (not including the journey thereafter), the total travel time would be 33 hours. And during that time, hardly any good sleep, one can only imagine the tiredness.

The A330 aircraft being readied for the journey

Crying toddler who sat in front of me in the plane could be heard in the Immigration Hall when we all got there. And he cried all the way pass the officers. Poor little fella. Passport clearance was slow because there was only one counter opened for International passport holders but customs was a breeze because we declared everything. When we stepped out to greet our firstborn, all that traveling time and tiredness were forgotten. The family unit was complete again and the heart felt whole. What a feeling!

Then when we stepped out of the terminal, a wave of hot air greeted us. Dang it was hot! 37 degrees. Are we in the US? It felt just like arriving at KLIA only that it’s not but it’s PDX.

Our first stop was Woodburn premium outlet to keep us awake, to walk and adjust to the local time. But it was too hot to walk around outdoors so the outing was shortened. We decided we needed to eat and opted for Jack in the Box. And the premise was equally hot because there was no air-conditioning. Only the bathrooms were air-conditioned but can’t stay in there! Haha…

The food portions were huge especially the chicken fingers! Can’t be fingers when they are so huge as I don’t remember them being this size before from our last US trip. We couldn’t finish and saved them for later.

Jack in the Box

M2 and I succumbed to our tiredness and had a good power nap in the car on the way to Corvallis. But it was still early, and we had to still stay awake, otherwise it would take longer to adjust. The town is typical of any college town and it reminded me of Flagstaff and my college and those dinosaur years.

We settled down quickly, unpacked and made ourselves comfy in her room, big enough for the four of us. But by nine, after dinner we were ready to crash. Might as well for the exciting days ahead await us and we need to adjust and be ready to enjoy ourselves during this time together.

My Friends Can Cook

20 Dec

Recently a girlfriend cooked Chicken and Lamb Briyani Rice for us, complete with side dishes and lovely garnishing. Hubby and I really enjoyed the meal and the company. It has been awhile since we had this dish, what more home-cooked. And this brought back memories of my first encounter with Basmathi rice when I was at college, the rice being the trigger here.

Over the Summer during the dinosaur era, I had a Pakistani housemate who took over the room from my previous housemates. It was a tad complicated as we were in between housemates but eventually, the living arrangements worked out.

Now during that time, the grad student would cook the one and only thing he knew, Basmathi rice and Curry Chicken. He had great skills cooking the Basmathi rice in a pot over the stove, with the rice always coming out fluffy and not burnt, and very yummy after tossing it in butter. But it’s the preparation of the chicken that I can still remember vividly until today.

He would cut the whole chicken to just eight pieces, no more no less. I asked why and he reasoned that it has to last him four days because he simply does not have the time to cook daily with his busy Summer schedule. With the chunky pieces rationed to one piece per meal for two meals a day, I thought it was the most convenient planning ever!

Compare that method to the preparation taken by the girlfriend on the meal she cooked for us, everything was bite size, flavored with exotic spices and very detailed in presentation. I’m not complaining but just marvelling at the efforts taken by her to ensure that the end results are perfect.

Whether the meal was cooked in simplicity for a hectic Summer schedule or meticulously for an afternoon leisurely lunch, both methods resulted in awesome tastes and I feel privileged to have friends who can cook for me.

Tonight another girlfriend will be cooking for me and I am so looking forward to the occasion and catching up with her on life.

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The final presentation complete with raisins, nuts and quail eggs

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Vege side dish

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Raita side dish

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Papadum side dish

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Dhal with lamb side dish

Ball Room Dancing

20 Sep

I was pleasantly surprised when M1 told me she signed up for Ball Room Dancing as one of her classes this Fall. Ball Room Dancing?! How fun is that?

I don’t recall when I was in college that such classes existed. The most fun classes I had were Drawing 1 (Art 120) and Ancient Life (GLG 201, Geology in other words). I can still recall the drawing class during my first Fall semester – the whole class went on a little excursion one lovely day to the Riordan Mansion State Historic Park, just off the campus perimeter. We were all seated under the shady pine trees, chatting away, enjoying the breeze and sipping Coke while sketching the mansion. It was quite an experience, something I still remember until today dinosaur years later.

The highlight of the Geology class during my second Spring semester was a field trip to the Grand Canyon to look for trilobites in the terrain. It was pretty exciting as the whole class was behaving more like high school kids chatting away noisily in the bus on our way there. I think I did discover some trilobites. That’s about as much fun I had.

Now for M1, ball room dancing…. hmm, definitely something very different and certainly sounds very fun. Classes begin for the Senior this Thursday.

Bag of Books or Bricks, Part 2

19 Sep

Unlike M2’s heavy school bag, when I was in high school, I remember I would try to avoid bringing any text books to school. I simply didn’t want a heavy backpack to deal with and even conspired with my friend who sat next to me to share the textbook, blatantly defying the teacher who specifically said no sharing. We basically took turns to bring the Math textbook to school.

Sometimes we will leave our subject text books in school or even hide them in the class cupboard! Ahhh… those were the days.

When it came to college, thank goodness for me being an art student for I did not have much text books to lug around. But I had art materials though and I did have a locker at the Art Department to keep my supplies. And this helped especially during winters when I had to trudge through the snow.

Sometimes situations today trigger those nostalgic memories. Sigh…

Dang! She’s Good, Part 2

18 Sep

I don’t recall English classes during the dinosaur years in high school was fun although I remember the teacher back then was nice and I liked her. Homework assignments were dull and boring. Ho hum.

English classes during college was certainly more fun and entertaining. But as far as I can remember, it was all about writing, creative writing and more writing.

Unlike M2’s recent English class assignment. It certainly was very different and a lot more fun because the class had to cook. English class, cooking? Go figure!

The teacher grouped the students and each group had to choose a country to research on culture, economy and food. How this related to the language was probably the written and oral, and definitely perked up the class to stay interested.

The students then had weekly show and tell sessions and the ultimate presentation was the food; each group had to cook something during class at the Home Science workshop to showcase the country’s food.

M2’s group chose Thailand. It was all very interesting (they made Pad Thai, Banana pancake and Thai Iced Tea) but what impressed me more was the cooking menu that M2 drew.

Such meticulous details and skill! Even I can’t draw like that I must admit. I think the girl has potential to pursue art, specifically illustration.

We Love Sandra Boynton!

4 Aug

Sandra Boynton is my all time favorite illustrator and author for children’s book. I discovered her books while working in New York City back in the early 90s, after graduating from college. I am proud to say I have quite a sizeable collection of her titles.

My collection were read by M1 and M2 in their early years, and even me occasionally these days when the mood hits.

When M1 was a toddler, I taught her to read ‘But Not the Hippopotamus’. The child was amazing. She could recite the whole book with full of zest and expression without a glance at the pages. The only thing she struggled with was the long word ‘hippopotamus’ which came out as ‘neh-neh-neh-tamus’.

When M2 was 19 months’ old, she had her exposure to Sandra Boynton too. Multi-tasking at such an early age, she’s engrossed with ‘Barney’ on the TV while attempting to read ‘Doggies’ at the same time. You have to turn up the volume, ignore Barney and listen to her carefully.

Adorable is all I can say. Sigh… why do they grow up so fast?

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Memory Fail

5 May

I have been sharing my painting efforts on Facebook and some of my friends on that platform have been following the progress. Out of the blue, my American housemate from my college days mentioned that she still has a piece of my work hanging on her wall!

Initially she shared the picture on my wall and I complimented her that the picture was pretty and asked was it her effort? To my surprise, she wrote that I painted it for her in college. Oh my goodness.

Memory fail here because I don’t recall. This must be the pre-Monet days where I still used the brush because the strokes on the painting didn’t look like a palette knife effort.

And what’s even more amazing was that apparently I did another piece of a cabin subject and sold it to the owner of the cabin! Super memory fail here again.

How can I have forgotten such significant moments?

The Ride, Part 2

20 Apr

The lady motorbike rider I wrote about recently reminded me of my encounter with this mode of transportation dinosaur years ago. It was during an interim period and I was working while waiting to go off to college. I was an artist for a publishing house that produced educational books for children.

In the mornings, Dad would send me to work as my office was close by his office. Days when I finished early I would go home with Dad. But there were nights that I had to work late and I didn’t want Dad to wait nor did I want to take the bus home. Luckily, I had a co-worker who lived in the same town and I would go home with him. On his motorbike.

So there I was on a couple of occasions, sitting at the back of his motorbike, clinging on to my dear life as he hurtled along the highway in the night to send me home.

It was downright scary whether it was the first time or second time because being hit by the wind on the face constantly was foreign and rather terrifying. Then there was that firm death grip on the bar behind my seat throughout the ride to ensure I remain on the bike. And the awkwardness to stay balanced, tilting along and not against when he tilted the bike to turn…

Quite an experience. After those couple of rides, never again I rode on a motorbike.

One of Mine

7 Mar

I love this painting that I did many years ago. Sometimes I see clouds above the mountains, other times it’s the ocean and the horizon. It gives a sense of calmness regardless of what I make it out to be whenever I look at it.

I took a painting class in summer during college and it was rather enjoyable. Like every other student, I started off using sable brushes but somehow I never did master this tool. Instead I prefer the palette knife.

Naturally, this two feet by four feet oil piece was completed using just the palette knife and no brushes at all. And it used to hang behind my sitting space at the old office. I hope to have it up at the new office in my room soon, one of the few places that can have big paintings up.