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


Channeling Rambling Into Public Speaking

beautiful woman holding black cat

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. 😉

Opening a very dusty door

door in stone wall

Image courtesy of Panoramio.com

Though my next term at SNHU online doesn’t officially start until Monday, the blackboard for the class has been open for a while. I chose not to look at it before today because I wanted to enjoy my break from schoolwork. My next course is Intro to Creative Writing and after taking two Composition classes back to back, I figured I’d really enjoy doing some creative writing. While I’m sure I will actually enjoy creative writing, I admit that it’s a door to an area of my writing that I haven’t opened in a very long time.

I do peak in that creative writing “room” every now and then when I try to write in Unbroken Flames, but the last time I cracked open that rusty, dusty door, the hinges squeaked horribly and I quickly closed it again when I realized I don’t even remember what tense I used to write in! I got a few sentences of writing done and tried to read back through it only to discover that I kept switching tenses. Maybe I’ve always done that and only now realize it after taking composition classes. Whatever the case, I was dismayed to see just how much of my creative writing abilities I’ve lost.

The first module in Intro to Creative Writing deals with writing poetry that focuses on imagery. Admittedly, I’ve never considered poetry my strong point and when it comes to imagery, I do too much or too little. Regardless, I’m certain that this course is exactly what I need right now, as I hope to get back into writing Unbroken Flames and maybe even finish it this year! I have so many stories that I’ve only shared with a handful of people and I’d love if more people read my fiction works and enjoyed them. I may be 37, but most days I still feel like that 12-year-old girl who started scribbling about magic and adventure in college-ruled spiral notebooks just to get the overflowing ideas out of my head! If all goes well, that overflow of ideas will return and help me break down the dusty door to the creative writing room within me.