Friday, December 23, 2011

Adam's Christmas Ornament

CookieOrnament.jpg by melbergink
CookieOrnament.jpg, a photo by melbergink on Flickr.

Felt, buttons, and ribbon - hooray!

Oh, and a little bit of stuffing.

Man, now I need my ACTUAL chocolate chip cookies looking this tasty.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I finally get to post!  Hallelujah!  And, it's work related...for Archery shirts!  The archers wanted this concept and requested an "old school" illustration style like you would find in books.  So below are the two images and finally the complete design for the back of the shirt.  Get it?  Haha.  We are such proud nerds.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Specimen Jars of DOOM!

Specimen Jars of DOOM! by melbergink
Specimen Jars of DOOM!, a photo by melbergink on Flickr.
I found a great "how to" on Instructables! My dollar tree did not have the same goodies, so my prices were a little higher, but not by much.  My little addition was a drop of yellow and a drop of green food coloring for some nice preservative flair.  All the color - none of the smell.  Unlike the worms in my classroom's fridge.  Somehow the fetal pigs and hearts are not as stinky...

Thanks for the great idea Shotgun3295!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Twenty minute sketches practice

I want to start noticing details in faces quickly, so I am going to try to draw these great faces from an old west book I have. Dad gave it to me from his Time Life "The Old West" collection. Amazing pictures! They inspire me to draw.

I ruin faces by a combination of overworking and frustration. The rule of walking away after 20 minutes may alleviate both. Hopefully after many many faces, the frustration will lessen.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


20110904_Saratoga by melbergink
20110904_Saratoga, a photo by melbergink on Flickr.

Watched Secretariat this weekend! It was neat to see Saratoga and say, "I've been there!"

Sunday, September 25, 2011

East Valley Invitational Results

On the way home I sang along to the Spin Doctors as chlorinated water seeped through my towel and into the driver's seat.  Autumnal equinox or no, it's still summer.  In 1997.

100 m free - 1:18
50 m free - 37.75
50 m breast - 49.97
200 m free - 2:55.54
50 m fly - 41.23
100 m IM - 1:32.86

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Chewbacca Defense LLP

A friend of mine is in law school and needs to make a faux law firm.  As a riff on a South Park episode, their group name is Chewbacca Defense LLP.  While I have not seen the episode in reference, I do know Chewie!   She asked me to make a little image that could be on letter heads and other items.  Here was my favorite result:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Swim Practice in a Faster Lane

1x 150 warm up

8 x 50 on :50
4 x 100 on 1:40
8 x 50 on :45
4 x 100 on 1:30

4 x 75 kick (flippers) on 1:15

1 x 200 on 3:00
8 x 25 on :35
1 x 200 on 3:00
8 x 25 on :30
1 x 200 on 3:00
8 x 25 on :25
1x 50 cool down

All down in about an HOUR!  Woot! 3300 yards of swimming!  I was swimming in a faster lane than normal, and they were even commenting on how that was the highest yardage workout they’ve done in an hour. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Julia's Hair

20110611_JuliaHair by melbergink
20110611_JuliaHair, a photo by melbergink on Flickr.

Unfortunately it only lasted less than a week - bummer!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

At the Zoo!

20110517_GlendaleZoo by melbergink
20110517_GlendaleZoo, a photo by melbergink on Flickr.
Way back at the end of the school year, we took a field trip with the seventh graders to the zoo. It was a great opportunity to try some REALLY quick small sketches of different organisms since I needed to keep up with the kids. It was actually a nice chaperoning tool because I could be right next to my group, but did not feel like I was breathing down their neck - the kids seemed relaxed and chatty with their friends (like this type of field trip should be!).  Plus the kids kept asking me what I was drawing - they seemed excited about journaling!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Guess that teacher!

So after a conversation about creating caricatures of friends, there was one teacher-friend that I immediately could picture in a fun way. One tough cookie wrapped up in a cheery, benevolent package. This is my summary of her:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Before and After Classroom

Before... by melbergink
Before..., a photo by melbergink on Flickr.

And after some tweaking and elbow grease...
After! by melbergink
After!, a photo by melbergink on Flickr.

After! by melbergink
After!, a photo by melbergink on Flickr.
Over the last few weeks I have been planning and working on some improvements to my not so science-y science room.

Curtains: There was horrible glare in the classroom, so we needed to take that edge off. Another fabulous life science teacher and I picked out fabric for some curtains. Sewing them myself was way cheaper than buying them!

Curtain Rods: Now we needed to put UP the curtains. After finding out how ridiculously expensive curtain rods are for large windows, I did some DIY research. In the end, I took conduit piping and basic hardware bracket materials. By gluing cabinet nobs onto the ends of the pipe and spray painting it black, the curtain rod looked just as nice as $40 dollar sets, but with less than half the price.

Silhouettes: The walls were BORING. I wanted to add something clean, modern, and FUN! We are a school! So I thought, silhouettes! Us two life science teachers picked out favorite silhouettes in four categories: Terrestrial large, terrestrial small, aquatic, and microscopic. Using a projector, we traced on the outlines. The next morning we came in and painted everything in.

Now you can definitely recognize that this is a Biology room! All of the materials (fabric, paint, curtain hardware, etc.) ended up costing about $120.

The Last Page

So, we have come to the last page of the journal. Just a little half-spread. After 35 whole spreads, with at least an hour or two each. A lot of time. This journal did not only record my trip, but became an integral part of the trip.

Best souvenir ever.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day 33: The Long Journey Home

I am SO terrified of drawing faces! My Ma and my sis have been exercising a face challenge, and I am very proud of them. I drew Adam because by this point in time I had drawn a lot of plane things (since before this trip as well). I figured I should also acknowledge the colors I have been using on this trip. The kit was quite tiny. I put it and the moleskine together in a Zippy bag for most of the trip since so many things got wet. Classy.

As for the trip home, it did not seem as long as the way to Ecuador. No road blocks, we got through simply enough. Although, once back in the Houston airport, Adam and Julia were immediately absorbed into their phones. I realized how much I LIKED being disconnected. However, over a month later, I am addicted myself again to my phone.

No more pictures anymore! Very sad. On the plus side, today has a bonus entry that I have been building over the last few weeks to remember little details I may have not drawn.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Day 32: Cock of the Rock

Today we woke up verrrrrry early to see the Cock of the Rock. They are weird. Noisy. Very noisy.

I will admit, while I loved watching the hummers at the feeders, by this point in time I was dreaming of heat waves in the shivery moist cloud forest. I wanted to walk around without mosquito netting.

I was ready to go home.

Today was the last full day of the trip. Good timing, eh?

Pbthbhth. by melbergink
Pbthbhth., a photo by melbergink on Flickr.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 31: Hummers and ferns and bugs, oh my!

So many amazing things seen today! I'll let the pictures and journal entry speak for themselves. Photo d-u-m-p.
20110713-412.jpg by melbergink
20110713-412.jpg, a photo by melbergink on Flickr.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Day 30: Up to Bella Vista

Today we made it to the Bella Vista cloud forest station. It was not that cold, yet I was COLD! It was a mosquito laden dampness. Brrr. But bird heaven! Watch out, the next entry will be a photo dump - cereal.
Coronet by melbergink
Coronet, a photo by melbergink on Flickr.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 29: Peguche

The drawing for today was really challenging because I did not draw it while observing. Rather, I focused on observing and retaining those observations for when I was back at the Hacienda. Details like sleeve-styling and shoes were tricky!

This was the extra "add-on" day at the Hacienda, so we visited a nearby town to see waterfalls and native instrument making. On the way home, we stopped by Otavalo again to pick up a few more presents and hunt for this ADORABLE little alpaca toy. I turned into a little girl once we found it. Evidence: for the rest of the trip I pulled him out of the luggage and sat him near a window so he could have a good view. Last Saturday, Otavalo was CRAZY packed, plus I had a major headache. The market was much more toned down, and I felt better this time. Much enjoyed.
20110711-298.jpg by melbergink
20110711-298.jpg, a photo by melbergink on Flickr.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Day 28: Cuy, Llamas, and Gardens

Today we explored a volcanic crater lake (lame boat tour), but the food was, um, interesting! Poor Squeakers! Guinea pigs were on the menu today, and we swore that we heard their little squeaking as we hiked up to the restaurant. They are wild there.

That evening at the Hacienda, I went on a photoshoot of the gardens. Of course, it does not capture their beauty. The only bummer aspect of the Hacienda were the meals; $20 per person for bland food. We even tried their cuy (guinea pig), but it was not nearly as good as the other restaurant's. I did enjoy the majority of the Hacienda's soups though!

I enjoy hanging out with llamas but was very wary of their spitting capabilities...

(Note on the sketch: I am bummed, but the scan leeched out my light grays!)

Cuy by melbergink
Cuy, a photo by melbergink on Flickr.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Day 27: Otavalo Market

Unfortunately, today I had an enormous headache, and what was on the agenda? A giant market. Ugghh… too many people, noises, and colors! It was still a great experience, but it could have been enjoyed a lot more. We did have an EXCELLENT brownie. Melty, gooey, steaming, with vanilla ice cream. We ordered another one right after. Then we relaxed more at the Hacienda by playing Carcassonne in front of the fireplace.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day 26: North and South

Today we jumped hemispheres! Our taxi driver stopped at the equator for us on the way to our next destination. He showed us some neat tricks that I wouldn't believe if I weren't there. For instance, when on the equator line, if you make a circle with your thumb and pointer finger, someone else can pull them apart super easy! Off the equator line, you can hold those fingers together. We thought it was just the demonstrator, but Adam, Julia, and I all tested each other - so true!

The organization that runs the equator also wanted to change the orientation of maps so that the equator runs vertically. In other words, the west side would be on top - weird.

After standing on El Mitad del Mundo, we made our way to Hacienda Cusin. An hacienda near Otavalo built in 1602. An Englishman owns it now and filled the place with beautiful gardens. We started off in a small room, but they ended up moving us to a larger room with a loft and a fireplace. Swanky! We stayed an extra night since we were so relaxed there.

20110708-120.jpg by melbergink
20110708-120.jpg, a photo by melbergink on Flickr.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Day 25: Antisana

20110707-117.jpg by melbergink
20110707-117.jpg, a photo by melbergink on Flickr.

The next biggest highlight of the trip would be Antisana. What a surreal ecosystem and awesome volcano. Awesome appropriately used. Giant picture dump - from magical moss to burnt sock evidence.

I have such strange fears that develop at night. I don’t know why, but I have such a detailed, active imagination. And you know when you think, “Don’t think of the color red!” then all you can do is think of the color red. That’s how my fears manifest and stay. So as I was lying in the hostel trying to think of everything but all of the horrible things that can occur in a foreign country, I pictured Antisana. The concept of it was like trying to visualize geologic time with cool snowy goodness and smothers out puny, little human worries. Blissful sleep.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day 24: Adios San Cristobal, Hola Quito!

We drove super early to the airport to drop off our bags and then walked backed for one loop around the port. It's so strange to visit some place that you get to know well for potentially the very last time. I was better health wise, but thinking of food still made me queasy. We flew back to the mainland, and I was able to give Adam a big hug.
Adam + Julia + Latin country = SOCCER!
Even on our first evening on the mainland, we watched a game at an English pub. It was actually quite enjoyable!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Day 23: Last Day at Jatun Sacha

Since there were too many volunteers (sudden influx), we stayed for kitchen duty help. In other words, squeezing vast quantities of fruit! This picture is not the best, but it captures Iris, Kathrin, and Julia. They were so wonderful to volunteer with. I may have gone insane with some of the volunteers, but K, I, and J were my sanity and fun!

Tomorrow would be our flight early in the morning, so I had only one more page to capture the essence of Jatun Sacha - the BATHROOM! (Of which I had become very familiar with...) For some reason I felt the need to paint this only in B&W. To make it more film noir-esque?

Kathrin, Iris, Julia by melbergink
Kathrin, Iris, Julia, a photo by melbergink on Flickr.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day 22: Sick Sick Sick

Stairs by melbergink
Stairs, a photo by melbergink on Flickr.

Last night and all of today I was being ravaged by a horrible intestinal bug. Awful! Yet, somehow, 24 hours of explosive diarrhea was more tolerable to two hours on a boat.

When a volunteer is sick, they are NOT allowed to work. Anyways, we had an enormous batch of new volunteers, and Julia mentioned that Jatun Sacha was just giving busy work. I stayed in my cocoon of mosquito netting trying to sleep with the exception of getting to the bathroom, which required me to untangle myself from the net, climb down the top bunk, run down the stairs (steep with no guide rail), jog down the path, peel off the layers of clothes and use the toilet while watching the cockroaches.

More than slightly nerve wracking if you feel like you don't have much control of your digestive system!

By the end of the day, I was able to eat some rice and nibble some other goodies. I drank a LOT of water. My friends took great care of me. I also finished "Octavian Nothing" - what a trippy book! I think I drew my journal entry the next day actually (two in one day to catch up), which would be the last full day at the station. I wanted to capture some of the aspects of volunteering that would not translate to camera.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Day 21: Last Day in the Port

After this, a few days in Jatun Sacha, and then we would fly out. Crazy. Everything happened so fast!

After a four-day trip and nearly three weeks of being surrounded by people, Julia and I were ready for quiet time. We just wanted to read on the beach and relax. Everywhere we went though we were followed by some volunteers that could not stop talking. It was incredibly annoying! We tried to give hints and tried to lose them, but gabber gabber gabber! It got to the point that I said, "Look, Julia and I are going into this restaurant to read quietly at the table. You may join us if you want to read quietly, too. If you come and talk, I will give you dirty glares."

We were free for about ten minutes. Then they came into the restaurant and sat at the table next to us! Gabber gabber gabber! The restaurant was empty! They could have sat anywhere. Julia and I were not content. Some people are quite oblivious...

Besides that, saw some more adorable sea lions! Kisses!

Aaaaa-dorable! by melbergink
Aaaaa-dorable!, a photo by melbergink on Flickr.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Day 20: Four-Day Trip Recap

No pictures today! A lazy day to recuperate from highly active travel. Nice to be home in San Cristobal!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day 19: Busy, busy Santa Cruz

20110701-445.jpg by melbergink
20110701-445.jpg, a photo by melbergink on Flickr.

Isabela was a gorgeous peaceful island, so it was strange to go to the populated Santa Cruz. More adventures with Galo narrating the observations. I think we were very fortunate throughout this whole trip because we saw A LOT of organisms, and he mentioned that usually only one or two sightings occur of some species. Later that night we boated back to home, San Cristobal. It was nice to be home!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Day 18: Isleta Tintorera

20110630-420.jpg by melbergink
20110630-420.jpg, a photo by melbergink on Flickr.

As frustrating as yesterday was, today was AMAZING. We boated through little islands next to Isabela. We jumped off on to Isleta Tintorera and discovered a cornucopia of wildlife. Huge picture dump on Flickr. HUGE. I’m not even going to try to describe the stuff we saw!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day 17: Great View, Horrible Guide

Today we ventured to Cierra Negra on Isabela, which was a fantastically slippery, muddy trail that lasted about five hours there and back. Kathrin and Iris, our fabulous German friends, had only flip-flops, yet forged through with hilarious squeals of almost slips. I was really cranky that day to be honest, and they helped me keep up in high spirits. Why was I cranky? Part of it was tiredness, part of it was sick of being around a group of people all the time (since we arrived in the Galapagos), part of it was the mentality of marching to a destination without enjoying the journey, part of it was the obscene amount of mosquito bites I had on my now swollen, red arm, etc. In other words, I was not pleasant, and I’ll be the first to admit it.

And then we had not only an idiotic guide, but a dangerous one. Yes, I restrained from correcting his elaborate explanation of the habits of the Barn Owl we saw (it was really a Short-eared Owl). But when we LOST a group member and he wanted to CONTINUE the hike, I nearly had a conniption. We ended up finding the hiker, he was feeling very sick though. Later this guide told us about how the tortoises were flown in from zoos and sterilized (?!?!?!). I could not let that slide and asked him to clarify, which he could not. The 19-year-old group members did not care about that detail, and I remember one had a simple explanation including a “DUH” to support the guide and quiet me. I’m sorry, but I cannot believe that anyone would sterilize an endangered species! The next day, to rolling eyes, I asked our regular guide Galo about yesterday’s information. He just put his head in his hands and started rocking back and forth saying, “No no no! We sterilize cats and dogs, NOT endangered species!” Turns out the tortoises were hybrids from a botched breeding experiment, which were sterile ALREADY (like a mule), so naturalists put them on barren Pinta island to reestablish the vegetation that needs tortoise digestive systems to help with germination. Now Pinta is flourishing.

Which makes sense.

Overall, it was a frustrating day, but the shining light were my friends Kathrin and Iris. They are such free spirits, and while youthful 19-year-olds, they were aware of the people around them. Compassionate and optimistic. With a side of sass and sarcasm. I miss them a lot!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Day 16: Four-Day Trip Commence!

Green Shirts! by melbergink
Green Shirts!, a photo by melbergink on Flickr. Left to Right (back): Anna, Katie, Killian, Lena, Julia, Me, Becky, Mateo (front) Iris, Jack, Kathrin

Most people went through SharkSky to get boat trips, but we were recommended to a small company run by an older Ecuadorian very fond of short shorts. It was like switching from “The Man” to that dude that lives around the corner. While slightly sketchy, I felt good about it. SharkSky rubbed me the wrong way.

Once we got our tickets (last week), the boss (with the short shorts and a huge smile) said he had presents for us. He pulled out a pile of neon green shirts with incredibly tacky Galapagos designs. Most were blatantly photoshopped images. They were the types of shirts that you see people wear and as you pass them you wonder how people BUY that stuff. Well, the boss was so adorably excited for us to have them that you couldn’t help being a little excited to be that tacky tourist. The neon green had a function too because he used it to corral us all on the first morning on the pier. We were required to wear them on the first day - pretty smart way to identify all of his customers to be directed onto the boat!

Any way, today was BIG. I learned some unpleasant things, like my abysmally bad sea sickness, but also I had my favorite moment of the entire trip – my first REAL swim with the sea lions. I’ve snorkeled with them so far, but I just was watching and they just checked us out and moved on.Today there was a secluded cove area without many of the snorkelers, and this time I played with the sea lions; I mimicked their loops, and they mimicked mine. Once I started interacting with them, it was like they woke up – “Hey! This one wants to PLAY!” At one point one of los lobos and I were moving underwater parallel to each other at a decent pace. His face was less than two feet from mine, and even though we were both swimming, we did not move in relation to each other. We just gazed into each other’s eyes. Amazing.

I’m typing this up in a still wet swimsuit since I just got back from MAC practice (Mesa Aquatics Club). Los lobos inspired and reminded me of my love of water and play. I will be forever thankful to them for sharing their bright spirits.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Whoa - no pictures today! We headed back last night to the Jatun Sacha site, but Tuesday EARLY in the morning we'll head out on our four-day tour of some of the islands. Most volunteers go on this tour, and Jatun Sacha really promotes it. That essentially left only this Monday, next Monday, and next Tuesday for volunteer work. How quickly time flies! With this ever present countdown, I wanted to capture some of the essence of the site that became home away from home. This turned out to be one of my favorite pages because it really brings me back to the kitchen.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day 14: Relaxing with Darwin Finches and the Ever-Present Lobos

Sundays were always challenging because we were officially "checked out" of the hostels (though they stored our luggage). When siesta time hit, everything was shut down. Everything. What to do? Where to go? It's hot, muggy, and not the most pleasant time of the day. Time when you really want some A/C. However, Julia and I found a fairly comforting ritual of falling asleep in a nook under some bushes. Like a children's fort on this amazing, relatively unvisited beach.

We had visitors. Many different bill shapes amongst them. I asked them to hold still while I was sketching, but they did not seem to listen. After working on Spanish, I'll need to brush up on Finchish.

Droopy Wings by melbergink
Droopy Wings, a photo by melbergink on Flickr.

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