The Kitten Who Took Over My Desk

Semester two: finished! I’ll get to a semester review another time, but first I thought I’d step away from the academic thoughts and bring Izzy back to the blog. See her other appearances here and here. While I feel like I have spent most of my days in the recent past studying or writing papers while sitting at my desk, Izzy has spent most of her days around me, invading my space. So here is a photo tour of Izzy’s life lately, which is probably more interesting than me just sitting at my desk. (Warning, if you’re not a cat person, this post might be cat overload. You see, when I’m stuck at my desk studying and writing, there is little to distract me except the cat… and the camera is always nearby.)

Izzy coming over to say hello and see what's going on with work.


Izzy decides she wants to sit on my desk. And there goes the desk.

Izzy plops on my notebooks, claims my watch, and enjoys sitting next to a big mug of coffee.

Izzy eats my watch. She likes to steal things of mine.

Izzy tries to eat whatever pen I'm holding.

This is how Izzy writes paper. It's as helpful as it looks.

Assisting with typing. (Not posed, folks.)

Pretending she can proofread, stalking my typing fingers -- I have no idea.

Izzy realizes I'm not leaving my desk and sighs. She's also waiting for Lucas to stroll by so she can have an a good position for attack.

Izzy got a new flamingo, because Vinny loves her too. She destroyed the old one and tore off the string so we couldn't swing it for her anymore. She has some awesome acrobatic jumps. That's Lucas' paw in the bottom left corner; he appreciated the new cat toy, too.

Izzy is quite happy with her shiny new flamingo. She wouldn't hold still for a picture!

It looks like she might destroy this one too.

Warming up for those high jumping cat moves.

And back to having coffee with me. This is why she was just meant to be my cat.

She's not always on my desk, though it's quite common. Sometimes she's just being adorable elsewhere.

And I love this cat so much because she makes me laugh when school is stressful -- take this face for example. What fluffy chipmunk cheeks!

A Life in the Trades: May 2010

Series introduction. October 2009. November 2009. December 2009. January 2010. February 2010. March 2010. April 2010.

By Nicholas Bogosian

Everything is green in Ohio. The hydrangea and the dandelions have sprung. The buds of Sugar Maples have turned to drooping tassels of flowers and finally to green leaves. The seeds have been sown and little chard leaves have peaked from the soil. The onion is taking root. The birds are happy.

I have to admit that I’ve been a little distracted from school lately. There’s been a severe case of burn out in the program at Belmont Tech among many of the students. Winter’s “state of emergency” snow load and intensive winter projects took their toll. It seems many of us are still trying to recuperate.

My classes this quarter include: Construction Management, Mechanical Systems, Field Documentation, Paints & Clear Finishes, Plaster, and Field Lab. In Mechanical Systems we’re doing hands-on exploration of electrical systems, plumbing systems, and HVAC systems – historic and present-day.

Mechanical Systems Class. Soldering of a copper supply line. Photo by Nicholas Bogosian.

Field Documentation has us at an 1870 one room school-house where another classmate and I are documenting the landscape. Our work will culminate in a sort of Cultural Landscape Report within a broader HSR.

Documentation Class. Rear view of the Great Western School House and surrounding property. Photo by Nicholas Bogosian.

In Plaster I’ve been doing an augmented reproduction of the Drayton Hall ceiling medallion. The process includes modeling from clay, molding the clay pieces, casting with plaster, and creating tin profile jigs for the running. The wall plaster and scagliola components to the class are to follow.

Plaster Class. Design of medallion applique. Photo by Nicholas Bogosian.

Perhaps my favorite class this quarter has been the Field Lab. We’re required to take four quarters of Field Lab where we work at an actual site applying our lab work experience under the guidance of either Dave Mertz (director of the program) or John Smith (superintendent to Allegheny Restoration).

The Spring quarter has us at the 1840s Swaney House in Morristown every Friday. We’ve begun with several projects: stone lintel crack repair, hanging of exterior window shutters, wall plaster, gutter hanging/soldering, and finish carpentry for the porch. John knows quite a bit about the preservation trades. His first trade is carpentry, but he seems to know just about everything. Working beside him feels much like working as an apprentice at times. You feel he’s giving you invaluable information, trade secrets, time-tested techniques. For example, using a coping saw to cut your inside mitre joint to allow for imperfect corner flexibility. Or that the “scratch coat” for wall plaster need not have any scratches. Or that the joint on metal downspouts should always create a 90 degree angle to a brick wall to avoid the brick being damaged when the metal expands in changing temperature.

Soldering gutter joints. Photo by Nicholas Bogosian.

Soldering gutter joints. Photo by Nicholas Bogosian.

Lime putty. Historically left to hydrate for many years. Photo by Nicholas Bogosian.

We’ve been able to see quite a bit of historic “apprentice work” throughout the house – brick walls laid in a bond one can only define as “apprentice bond.” This past Friday it felt like I was only adding to the collection of apprentice work with imprecise wood measurements while cutting some wood molding. My friend Abby, who was helping me, mentioned the old “measure twice, cut once” adage to which John replied that we actually just need to measure once. Correctly. He also informed us that the old “practice makes perfect” adage is a fallacy as well. Practicing the wrong way doesn’t make anything perfect, after all.

John perpetually keeps us laughing throughout the day. Always an anecdote for every step in the process. Always a story from preservation-assignments-past. This is the one day of the week we get to relax a little. Though we have to keep a log of what we’re doing and document the process, there’s usually no strict time frame for what we‘re doing. No note-taking. No textbook. No tests.

And believe me: I’m fine with that.

Abby and I taking pictures while the others are working. Photo courtesy of Nicholas Bogosian.

An Interview with Preservation in Pink

I am accustomed to conducting an interview, not to being the interviewee, but I am thrilled and honored to be featured at Voices of the Past for an interview about Preservation in Pink, its mission, and historic preservation. Of course, there is some talk about flamingos.

Here is the headline from the Voices of the Past homepage right now:

Audio Podcast: Kaitlin O’Shea on collaboration, platforms, and the role of historic preservation in the blogosphere

Neat, huh? I’m psyched. Click here to listen to the podcast or to read the transcript (photographs included, too!)

Spend some time browsing through the website and you’ll find it to be more than just an occasional resource. Voices of the Past is joining the forces of heritage and social media by bringing important heritage news, issues, events, and faces  to the new online heritage community via modern internet based media tools (blogging, twitter, Facebook, rss feeds to the online heritage community. Topics range from historic preservation, archaeology, conservation, genealogy, how-to’s and social media techniques, ethics, news, and profiles… all without a political agenda. It is a community defined by users, but done so in an extraordinary way. You can find podcasts, news programs, blogs, peers, videos, tips, and much more on the website. Jeff Guin, the creator, works tirelessly with people like Bethany Frank, a journalism student, to develop what they have called a new type of journalism. Thank you to Voices of the Past for including me in such a great community!

Oh, about the photograph featured above? It’s about time I shared it here. What could be better than a giant flamingo? My disclaimer is that it does not belong to me, but Fred the Flamingo does indeed belong to a flamingo girl. (What else did you expect?)

Preservation Photos #30

Taken while working on my paint conditions assessment lab report of a ca. 1888 barn: talk about some alligatoring and paint peeling, which were just some of the problems with this building. [Click the picture and zoom in for the best image.]

Preservation Month 2010

It’s Preservation Month! May 2010’s theme is “Old is the New Green.”  It’s my pleasure to use the National Trust of Historic Preservation’s proclamation for Preservation Month (get it for your organization and community too!)

WHEREAS, historic preservation is an effective tool for managing growth and sustainable development, revitalizing neighborhoods, fostering local pride and maintaining community character while enhancing livability; and

WHEREAS, historic preservation is relevant for communities across the nation, both urban and rural, and for Americans of all ages, all walks of life and all ethnic backgrounds; and

WHEREAS, it is important to celebrate the role of history in our lives and the contributions made by dedicated individuals in helping to preserve the tangible aspects of the heritage that has shaped us as a people; and

WHEREAS, “Old is the New Green” is the theme for National Preservation Month 2010, cosponsored by Preservation in Pink and the National Trust for Historic Preservation

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Kaitlin O’Shea, do proclaim May 2010 as National Preservation Month, and call upon the readers of Preservation in Pink to join their fellow citizens across the United States in recognizing and participating in this special observance.

What can Preservation in Pink help you do for Preservation Month? It’s simple — share what you’re doing and make your own proclamation. Preservation + Sustainability and “green” can be taken in so many ways. What does it mean to you? Local shopping? Environmentally friendly products and building materials? Walking? Visiting historic sites? Heritage tourism?

Share your thoughts and ideas here — and stay tuned for fun Preservation Month posts (and goodies, perhaps) from PiP throughout the month!

Green Up Day

Hello Vermonters! It’s the 40th annual Green Up Day in Vermont, when people and groups all across the state to clean up the state and fill green bags with trash. Bags are shipped to every agency of transportation district and coordinators pick them up and distribute among their groups. Some community members help to make this a big event and provide refreshments to those “greening up.”  Let’s hear it for Vermont! Green Up is a 501(c)(3) organization.

Green Up’s mission is to promote the stewardship of our state’s natural landscape and waterways and the livability of our communities by involving people in Green Up Day and raising public awareness about the benefits of a litter-free environment.

2010 winning poster. Click here.

Let’s hear it for Vermont!