A New Appreciation for Frank Lloyd Wright

 

Frank Lloyd Wright

Fallingwater House by Frank Lloyd Wright

For those of you who don’t know, I’m taking online courses from Southern New Hampshire University to get a degree in Communications. I’ve been going for many years and I’ve been through various ups and downs, but I’ve managed to maintain my A average. Well, this last term that ended last week had me worried that I might actually fail a course. The course was a fine arts course called Modernism and the first week’s assignments had me very confused and I was struggling with the ideas of modernism and art history. I received low grades the first week and I was disheartened.

I shared my struggles with my close circle of friends and they all insisted that I’d pass just fine and probably with flying colors. I appreciated the support, but I didn’t entirely believe them. As is true often in my life though, I was underestimating myself and sure enough, the class soon clicked for me and I took my grade from a C to an A. I was soon receiving perfect grades every week and I was impressed by how my brain was actually learning new things.

What made me the most happy was working on my final project. We had to do a Modernism exhibition and I chose to focus on Frank Lloyd Wright because I’d always loved his architecture. I found so much interesting information on him that I could’ve written a book, but I limited my exhibition to just under 20 slides. I’m so proud of my accomplishment in the course and of my work on the project that I’m now sharing it with you (with SNHU’s permission of course). I hope you enjoy it!

Frank Lloyd Wright

 

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Channeling Rambling Into Public Speaking

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Holding my cat Owl who is almost as talkative as I am.

There’s a very good reason the address for this blog is “ramblingjulie” and that reason is that I ramble. As I’ve said in previous blogs, one of the my father’s favorite pieces of advice to me was “Talk slower!” and he said that because I talk quite fast when I’m excited about the topic, when I’m happy, when I’m nervous or any combination of those. I am an exuberant and energetic person and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

For this past term at SNHU online, I was taking Public Speaking, which involved writing two speeches and recording them. I found the writing part challenging but not impossible as I type quite fast and am an efficient researcher. However, when it came to speaking them aloud and recording them in front of a camera I was extremely nervous! I’m not sure I’d survive a Public Speaking class in an actual classroom setting because I’d probably melt into a puddle of anxiety and embarrassment.

Regardless, I did my first speech (an informative speech), turned it in, received a good grade and some suggestions about going less from my notes, shooting it in an area with better lighting, looking at the camera more and using more gestures and body movement. I used my laptop webcam to record that speech and the only place I could put it where it was at a good height was on the shelf in my daughters’ bedroom where the lighting wasn’t the best and I had to stand between their two beds to give it. Lighting and movement were definitely lacking and honestly, the prospect of me memorizing anything with my constantly-subject-jumping-mind is rather slim. Even so, I was pleased with my grade and hoped to do better on the next speech.

For my second speech, a persuasive speech, I chose a topic I was very passionate about (attending Pow-wows) and writing it out was no problem at all. After my first speech, I had a good idea how pages translated into minutes of talking and I had the speech ready to go in less than an hour. That was the easy part. The hard part was finding a good place to record it and then actually performing it. Using my point and shoot digital camera on a tripod, I tried to record it outside first but it was too breezy and the wind kept blowing into the camera microphone drowning out what I was saying. Moreover, it was 85 degrees in the shade and I was already sweating from being nervous so that was just a bad idea.

I then moved the “recording session” inside my air conditioned house and decided to stand in front of my coat closet door because there was plenty of natural light. With my daughter’s music stand set up as my podium, I started recording my speech…and was almost immediately interrupted by my “evil twin” cats Angel and Daisy tearing through the house. I paused the recording to wrangle them somewhere out of the way and then looked at what I’d recorded. I realized a hair and wardrobe change was in order after that preview and a couple outfits later, I was happy with one of my off the shoulder blouses and my wavy brown hair cascading down over my shoulders. My original glasses-wearing librarian with her hair in a bun just hadn’t played well for the topic of my speech.

Content with my setting and appearance, I started recording my speech again and it took several recordings before I got something I was sure I could edit into something reasonable. Luckily, doing my first speech gave me needed experience using Windows Live Movie Maker so I knew how to edit and add things, but it was still a time-consuming process. Incorporating visuals was necessary for this speech, but as I couldn’t figure out how to keep the sound going over the slides, the pictures just popped up for two seconds following the sentence I spoke leading up to them. I’m sure with a better movie-making program, it would have been less choppy, but I got everything in that I wanted to.

The required length for the speech was 5-8 minutes and mine wrapped up in just under 8 minutes so I was quite pleased with myself. Even so, I wasn’t overly confident I’d receive a good grade because I kept looking at my written speech and didn’t incorporate much body movement (what the heck does one do with one’s hands when they’re giving a speech???), but I know I’d given it my best shot. I turned it in, awaited my grade, and didn’t have to wait long. The next morning I checked my grades and stared in disbelief at my grade of 170/175! I think my exact reaction was to exclaim “Holy s**t!” and thus scare Jazzmin out of the room and wake both inside cats from their naps.

The fact that I had managed to channel my rambling into Public Speaking speeches that made sense was astounding to me. Not only that, I’d actually spoken slow enough to be understandable and for anyone who knows me really well, that’s quite an accomplishment! I was extremely happy with my grade (the five points off was for still not incorporating enough gestures and body movement) and I knew that my dad’s spirit (the former Toastmaster) was looking on in pride. I do tend to underestimate myself and life has a way of slapping me upside the head when I do that, but I also think that’s there’s nothing wrong with being humble. Eventually I’ll figure it all out and stop doubting the limitless potential in this Rambling Julie. 😉

A day of surprises

The first surprise today was the amazingly nice weather for November. Yes, the weather forecast had said it was going to be almost 60 and sunny, but anyone who lives here knows not to believe such an optimistic prediction until they actually experience it. Thankfully, the crystal ball-reading forecasters were right today and the sun shined warm and bright.

I shined almost as bright and warm as the sun today when I checked the SNHU connect app and discovered that I’d won the Most-Liked/Commented Halloween Costume contest for my picture as a Swashbuckler Sith. I was shocked! I’ve never won a costume contest (not that I’ve been in many) and I don’t win many things in general so I was ecstatic. The physical prize is some SNHU swag which is very nice, but the real prize is much deeper than that. For a girl who was either not seen in high school or viewed as weird, a witch, or worse, feeling a small taste of popularity was a surprising self-confidence boon!

The announcement of the winner. :)

The announcement of the winner. 🙂

The winning Halloween selfie. Swashbuckler Sith.

The winning Halloween selfie. Swashbuckler Sith 😉

In all honestly, I’m a Jedi Master and not a Sith, but I dressed up as a Sith just to see what it felt like. Apparently, I wear it well, but that I’m still a believer in the positive, perky, and sunny side of the Force.

To partake in the sunny side of the Force, my girls and I headed down to the school playground for some fresh air fun. The playground is rather nice, well-built, and very familiar to all of us as I’ve been taking my girls there since they were little. Jaycie usually spends the entire time on the swings because she loves swinging but eventually Jordan and I were able to convince her to join us exploring the “towers” of the playground. The surprising thing was that once we got Jaycie off the swing, she didn’t want to get back on and she was more than happy to chase around with her older sister. I know how truly blessed I am that my two daughters play so well together, especially since there’s a 4 year age difference between them. It felt wonderful playing around with my girls and pretending I was a kid again!

Sign at the playground. Yes they do!

Sign at the playground. Yes they do!

Jaycie swinging as usual.

Jaycie swinging as usual.

Yay! She's off the swing!

Yay! She’s off the swing!

My girls on the playground bridge.

My girls on the playground bridge.

Jaycie conquering the bridge!

Jaycie conquering the bridge!

Awww! They're playing together. =)

Awww! They’re playing together. =)

I am queen of the sunken half-tire thingies!

I am queen of the sunken half-tire thingies!

Tomorrow’s weather is supposed to be even better than today’s and I’ll happily take it considering how awful November was last year. Every nice day is one less icky, winter day and no matter the weather, each dawn brings the potential for miracles, gifts, and surprises.

A walk in the field

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I accomplished a lot yesterday! I completed my daily quota of freelance articles, read through the modules for both college courses, did all the online textbook reading for my SNHU 107 class, took a walk with Jordan and Jazzmin, cooked burgers out on the grill and ended the day by reading some of the online textbook for my English Composition class. Jordan was a big help by assisting Jaycie with her homework and at one point I had to go into my bedroom to finish my writing work, but I got it all done! I had a lot to be proud of and while I was proud, I was also a bit disappointed.

Although I understand that adding college into the mix makes it more challenging to fit everything in, I didn’t realize how tricky it would be to properly manage my time. Interestingly enough, my SNHU 107 class reading last night was about time management. For the past few weeks I’ve been saving my college work until Wednesday when the girls go to their father’s house. While I was able to accomplish all my required work by the deadlines, I thought perhaps I should spread it out over whole week. Well, I gave it a shot but after yesterday, I’ve decided the system I had worked out was just fine!

My girls come first, plain and simple. Jordan shouldn’t be helping Jaycie with her homework, I should. I shouldn’t have to hide away to get work done when the girls are home, I should be spending time WITH the girls! My favorite part of yesterday was the walk with Jordan and Jazz but even that felt rushed because we had to get back home in time to pick Jaycie up from school.

I started out today with the intention of getting all of my freelance work done before the girls got home and then not diving into my college work until tonight after they were in bed. It went okay for the first couple articles but then a client asked for a full rewrite, my word processing program started doing weird things and I found myself on the verge of frustrated tears. At that moment, I decided enough was enough! So I promptly shut down my computer, changed into my walking clothes, “saddled up” Jazz in her backpack and headed out for a walk on the lovely fall afternoon.

Jazz and I had made it halfway up the first hill when I found the farmer’s field off to our left calling to me. I could’ve kept going up the hill on the road but I listened to my gut and my gut said “Go into the field!” I turned Jazz off the road and into the field of almost knee-high clover and grass we went! She really had to pick up her paws to navigate the field and she kept snorting it all up and sneezing. If we’d been trying to sneak up on anything, we would’ve failed miserably.

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My trusty pup and I made it to the top of the field hill and were rewarded with a lovely view of more green fields, blue sky, puffy clouds and butterflies flying all around. I stood there for many moments breathing it all in and reconnecting with my inner serenity. Jazz was busy sniffing and snorting the grass and I suppose that’s how she connected her nose with her own version of deer-scented serenity. I was extremely glad I’d listened to my gut because even in just the few moments we stood there, I felt re-energized.

To leave the field, we headed toward the wall of trees that lined the edge of a deep ravine. At the bottom of the ravine runs the barely trickling stream that just a month ago was so flooded with water it washed out the road.

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The grass was shorter by the trees and easier to walk through and Jazz had a wonderful time smelling the deer, squirrels, chipmunks, grasshoppers, mice, and mythical creatures that had been there at some point in history.

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I admired the great height and strength of the oak trees while avoiding the raspberry prickers growing by their roots. I was very surprised to find a recently ripened clump of black raspberries so late in the season! I snapped a picture to prove that I wasn’t hallucinating.

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When we returned home, it was almost time to pick up Jordan so I made myself presentable then loaded Jazz into the car to head out. I won’t get as much work done today as I did yesterday but I’ll get it all done eventually and on time. Today reminded me that while work is important, so is taking a breath and a break to enjoy the world around me.