Monday, May 31, 2010

*Memorial Day*


The bells! They toll inside the graveyard gates
Meanwhile I stroll within.
The air is sweet, the ground is soft
And colorful daubs brighten the graves.
Great grandma, who adored her flowers,
Aunt Lois, who read many books,
Great grandpa, I never knew you
But I know that you played music,
Aunt Doris, you were funny
And had a pair of deep brown eyes:
Go garden, read, and play in your own paradise.
You guys, I'd like to thank you
For paving a place in the world.
If you had not been alive on this earth,
then where would I be today?
Certainly not walking in beauty
With flowers dotting the way,
With the sun shining down during this pretty month of May.
It is love and life that created me and maybe a little fate:
Thanks for the chance to listen to the bells
That toll within these graveyard gates.

Ashleigh 5/31/10

Great grandpa served WWI

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Perfect As Ever

Our dinner last night. YUM.

Yesterday was the perfect summer's day.

John and I woke up and slowly got ready to go the beach. I hadn't been there since I was a little kid with my grandma so I didn't really remember how nice it is. Before we got there, however, we stopped at a little bakery and picked up some apple strudel. When we arrived at the beach, it was 88 degrees and clear. The beach was pretty crowded but not too much so. We picked out our spot and lathered sun screen on each other (I missed some spots on John's back and you can see finger prints and a distinct red line where the sun screen wasn't applied). We ate our breakfast and laid in the sun for a while. The water was cool, clear, and the bottom sand was uber soft. It didn't get deep until a long ways off shore and we spent a good amount of time in the water cooling off. What surprised me was when people would park their motorized boats and pontoons up on the shore where people swim. I could just imagine someone drinking and driving (people and families drink much more often than I'm used to!) and hitting a person as they parked their boat.

After three hours spent on the beach, we stopped at a near DQ for ice cream. On the drive home, it was absolutely gorgeous. The rolling fields and trees were green, the lakes along the way were blue with the surfaces shimmering, pelicans were scattered all over them, the sun was lower in the sky creating sweet light (a photographer's ideal softest light), and the road was sparkling pink. I felt at peace and realized how lucky I was to have such a great day and such beauty around. When we arrived to town, we stopped at the store for dinner. We had corn on the cob, fried chicken, potato salad, and grape juice; the perfect summer's dinner. It was delicious. Later we watched Animal Planet online and fantasized about which breed of dog and cat we wanted to own; can't wait.

I never thought that I would have the same freedom to lounge around in the summer as I used to as a kid but these summer days are just as enjoyable as they used to be. What I love about summer is the weather (well, duh, but I hate the cold!), swimming and lounging in the sun, more time off, opportunities for reading, traveling, time to write and draw, and wearing shorts and tank tops. I am doing all of these things. Thus, summer is much the same; perfect as ever.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tree, gather up my thoughts...

I just found the most wonderful poem when I searched tree poetry.

by J. Daniel Beaudry

Tree, gather up my thoughts
like the clouds in your branches.
Draw up my soul
like the waters in your root.

In the arteries of your trunk
bring me together.
Through your leaves
breathe out the sky.

I've finally been put to good use and have started my research on trees. Populus deltoides to be exact. Another fellow student researcher, Professor Cole, and I will be looking looking at Cottonwood trees and the effect climate change has on them as well as their potential use as a biofuel (it grows fast for a tree!).

More specifically, we'll be coring a number of Cottonwoods from the same area. We'll use a borer and drill it into the tree at dbh AKA diameter at breast height - hehe. We'll extract a core sample like these practice ones we took from pine, ash and cottonwood:

Apart from the core samples, we'll also be taking leaf samples. In the lab, we'll be counting the rings and measuring ring width of the rings from the core samples. This will tell us the age of the tree as well how good or bad of a year it was for it. From the leaves we'll be extracting condensed tannin - a chemical that protects the tree because of its bitter taste - and analyzing it's prevalence in the leaves.

I am very enthused after yesterday and today. I loved being out on the prairie learning about Cottonwoods and a variety of other things as well; identifying an assortment of plants and birds, learning about the array of trees, finding out about the different invasive species, learning about diseases that kills certain trees, etc. I'm a wildlife nut. Learning more and more about what's found in nature just enhances my desire to appreciate it and protect it.

It's incredibly beautiful in this small town. Less than a mile away from campus is the river with prairie surrounding it. This little area of conservation has so much beauty. Each season possesses it's unique attraction. I love watching the prairie grass that moves like sea waves when the wind blows over it. The purple, white and yellow flowers that are scattered throughout are dainty and pretty. The cottonwoods and aspens make the most wonderful sounds as their leaves tremble; the word to describe it would have to be "shimmery." Their shiny demeanor is eye-catching as the sunlight glitters off it. The river is blue and lazy and makes its way wherever it pleases. Deer, rabbits, warblers, waterfowl, beaver, snakes, and all sorts of animals inhabit the relatively small area. Quite near you can see a white 230 ft wind turbine, softly whooshing as its three blades make it all the way around. You can see it from my window in this photograph I took a few evenings ago. Enjoy (:


             Tent caterpillars on the railing outside my apartment.
Hey Timon and Pumbaa, come on over to Minnesota! We've got lots of yummy grub!

Caterpillar attack! They are EVERYWHERE; in the trees, on Science Building floors, on the sidewalk (alive as well as smashed corpses), in the grass, on railings, on posts, in stairwells, just anywhere you can think of.  A week ago, they spun webs and were hanging from all the trees around my apartment. As they hung there, they would all sway in the breeze like ribbons hanging from a doorway, except a lot creepier. After walking under the trees, I could feel their invisible silk on my arms and face. Yuck! and I unknowingly brought them into my apartment. One morning I was making my bed and as I lifted up the sheet, I saw one happily crawling around. AH! Had I slept with the thing? Was it in my hair and been carried inside? What if I had smushed it on accident and it's guts had gotten all over my bedding? Ewww.

Although they freak me out, they do have quite beautiful markings. They turn into some brown shabby moth though. Go figure.

I wonder what species will have a good sized population next year because of all the yummy grub around. Bats? Spiders? Birds?

Monday, May 24, 2010


A guy named Maximilian Sinsteden did this to his dorm. Wow, I LOVE this.  It's exquisite, look at all the detail in this one corner.

As a kid and young teen, I watched TLC for one reason; I love transformations. Transformations are exciting and beautiful. A room, a person, or anything can go from drab, boring, and cluttered to lovely, lively, and interesting. The idea of taking something and making it change for the better is fascinating. A negative thought turned upside down to positive can brighten your day. A healthy switch from couch potato to working out can make you feel so much better about yourself, make you sleep better, and make you fit. A wall turned white to a soft peach can make a room turn charming, in turn making you a little more happier every time you walk in.

The two types of shows I watched were the home improvement and decorating shows; my favorite being "Trading Spaces." I also watched the makeover shows like "What Not To Wear." These shows were the epitome of metamorphosis.

After my veterinary dreams, I wanted to be an interior designer or maybe decorator is the right word. I wanted to add fabric to walls, creating texture and appeal. I wanted to upholster chairs using fun patterns. I wanted to add pictures in frames, beautiful curtains, and dainty lampshades. Hell, I'd still love to that when I have my own place one day.

Anyways, my dorm room was a disaster last school year. It was yucky. I didn't, and still don't, have money to spend on stuff to make it pretty. Not that that is an excuse. A good one is that I'm outta state going to college. I have my little cute Volvo can't hold much more with two tons of clothes I own. Thus, more stuff is just a bad idea plus bad for the environment (the fact that is stuff in itself and the heavier your car is, the more gas you burn). Plus it seems like I move around too much. So I'll just wait til my outta college or if I ever get a semi-permanent house during my schooling experience. ENOUGH WITH EXCUSES.

Basically, my room had a few photos and postcards that were always falling off the wall as well as a poster of Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh that would stick no matter how many of rolled pieces of tape were stuck to the back of it. Ugh, the furniture was super functional and new but not homey or as darling as I would have liked. My roommate was into writing and not into decorating at all. The room was dull and divided in half by our two wardrobes for privacy and she stayed up every night til past 2 am on the computer. This division created it to be claustrophobic and nast.

Next year, my room is going to better. I have a new roommate and hopefully we'll make it look nice. It doesn't have to be perfect but it'd be nice if it made me feel good to live in.

The variety and abundance of art on this one wall is fantastic; the European license plate, the rounded globe thing, the consistency of the frames color scheme-wise. The green wall color is great and I love the paisley throw pillow.

I adore the rug and bedding. Ah, what style and creativity he has. Read the article here: "No Sense In Waiting"

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Moving is a pain in the ass and I'm not even a family moving; I'm one measly young adult. When I went off to college, I was like, "Oh this is hardly any stuff at all. My pretty little Volvo can fit it all; this won't be too bad to move!"

Well Ashleigh, let me tell you some things.

1. You have waaaaay to many clothes. I know you gave away four bags to Salvo a few weeks ago but do you really need 10 winter coats?

2. What happened to you wanting to live life simply? To eat simply, to act simply, to have a few, simple possessions? Why in the world do you need so much stuff? Remember when Annie Leonard came to campus and gave a talk about material things; what happens to garbage, where does all our stuff come from, and what it's doing to our world? You said to yourself, "Ooh she was just SO inspirational. I am going to be the greenest citizen around and not buy so many clothes, recycle everything, and live so simply."

How's that working out for ya? Like the new romper you got the other day?

[Seriously, watch her "Story of Stuff," your life will be changed: ]

3. Get someone to help you move for heaven's sake! 1000 lbs of stuff to move is difficult for one 120 lb little lady. C'mon

4. Pack a little more smartly next time. Label all the bags that you will use for the summer and all the ones you don't need to open, not even peek! Only take the ones you need into your new place and leave the ones you don't in your trunk (even better, store in a friend's place for the summer).

That's all (:

By the way, love your new place. It must be so nice having some privacy and alone time for once.

West window. It doesn't catch how beautiful the light is. I have a feeling that each evening I will enjoy this picturesque view outside the living room window.