In Memory of My Liz

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Last Saturday, January 20, my beloved Uromastyx lizard passed away. Liz Lemon was one of my favorite subjects to photograph, and the original mascot of this blog. I named her after one of my favorite Tina Fey characters.

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A photo of Liz in her younger days. Over time, she outgrew that cave!

Just a few of the many things about Liz that I will dearly miss:

  • harvesting lettuces, carrots, and marigolds for her from the UMD Community Learning Garden
  • making videos of her scarfing down lettuce, while playing the Jurassic Park theme in the background
  • watching her chill on her reptile ramp, or hang her big belly between two hollowed-out log tunnels
  • her self-published novella, Not Without My Lettuce
  • the way she would eat matchstick carrots dipped in vitamin goo out of my hand
  • her happy lizard smize (smile with lips + eyes = smizing)
  • when she was too heavy for her original reptile hammock and accidentally pulled it down, and her subsequent refusal to trust the newer, more durable hammock
  • the way she would hang out at the end of her habitat closest to me when I would work from home
  • her hobby of chasing moths and Swiffer dusters which dared to venture too close
  • how she loved to bask by the window and watch the happenings in the yard

I was not her original owner, but I place her age at around 10 years (maybe more). I inherited Liz in 2010 from a fellow student at Salisbury University. Since that time, every time I got a new job or a raise I would build up Liz’s habitat. She was part of the reason that I became a gardener; Liz was a vegetarian and I enjoyed growing food for her. I called her my “big girl” because of that Uromastyx pot belly!

Fortunately, my sister Kelly was visiting for the weekend and provided Liz with a presidential motorcade in her black Lincoln sedan back to my parents’ house. There Liz received a proper burial in a beautiful red cookie tin that came from one of my favorite students at work. To me, this was preferable to burying Liz in the yard of my current apartment. I feared that her sensitive reptilian soul would be stuck hearing my upstairs landlord abuse people over the phone for the rest of eternity.

There isn’t much this week that can diminish my sadness over losing Liz. She was my buddy and a delightfully silent roommate for almost eight years. I had hoped that we would have several more years together and maybe I would buy a house for myself that she could live in rent-free.

Liz saw nearly all of my 20s and witnessed my various victories and setbacks. Her empty tank is a tear-inducing sight. But if I can someday provide another Uromastyx with a loving home, I will be happy to do it in her memory.

 

Alumni Spotlight: Buddy Hipp

Recently I had the opportunity to tag along with my co-worker, Ken Ingram, and his Landscape Design and Implementation students as they went on a field trip to The Hotel at the University of Maryland (UMD). It had been a very long time since I went on a field trip; in my opinion, it was a blast.

The Hotel at UMD is in the final stages of development, and one of Ken’s former students, Buddy Hipp, oversaw the planning and installation of native landscaping on the property. Because The Hotel is conveniently located just across the street from campus, Buddy contacted Ken to offer current students the opportunity to walk over from Jull Hall for a landscaping tour.

Our experience exploring the new building, admiring the recently-installed trees and shrubs, and hearing about Buddy’s experience as the landscaping project lead was very informative. It is obvious that he enjoys his work as a project manager for Ashton Manor Environmental, a company with a focus on sustainable landscaping. To me, it sounds like an ideal job.

I took numerous photos and Buddy graciously agreed to be interviewed for a quick Alumni Spotlight video (see below). If you would like to learn more, here is a news item that I wrote for our website at work.

 

Oriehls Magic

What happens when the two biggest Baltimore Orioles baseball fans in the nation meet? They fall in love and get married. ❤

On September 9, the Riehls said “I do” at the Baltimore Hilton overlooking Camden Yards. Their wedding was Orioles baseball-themed — everything from the cupcake tower, to the surprise guest on the dance floor (THE Oriole Bird), to Chris’s heartfelt musical ode to Baltimore – reflected a love of Maryland’s favorite big city.

Jen’s idea was to create an “XO” wedding logo using the Baltimore Orioles’ iconic orange “O.” I enjoyed working with her to create a one-of-a-kind wedding invitation, photo booth image, and other designs. Scroll down for photos and to see the invitation.

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Oriehls Magic in the form of a cupcake tower.
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The first dance. Can I say right now how much I freakin’ love weddings?
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Dining in style at the reception with some of my USG friends.
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Special guest at the dance party: the Oriole Bird! If you know me, then you know I love all manner of birds. #Birdland

Jen and I became friends while working together at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG). Through Jen, I got to know Chris by participating in his Baltimore Rent-A-Tour outings that showcase historic sites in the city. Going to their wedding was also a reunion of sorts because some of my favorite USG people were there as well!

Thank you, Jen and Chris, for the opportunity to design your wedding invitation and logo. Congratulations and I wish you many years of happiness. Go birds!

 

Designing the Choptank River Lighthouse in Stained Glass

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The Choptank River Lighthouse is a historic site on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Situated on the waterfront in Cambridge, Maryland, the lighthouse is a symbol of the town as well as Dorchester County. In the early 1900s, lighthouses like this one guided ships that sailed along the Choptank River.

A family friend who lives in the town of Cambridge commissioned this stained glass project from me in 2016. After many visits to my mom’s house on the Eastern Shore, where I could access my stained glass workbench and materials, I was able to complete this one-of-a-kind project.

Designing an original stained glass pattern is equal parts challenging and rewarding. I made several sketches by hand before scanning and finalizing my pattern in Adobe Illustrator.

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My pattern, vectorized in Adobe Illustrator. By creating a vector graphic, I can enlarge my design to any size without losing image quality. Please email me at randie.hov@gmail.com if you would like permission to use this stained glass pattern.

 

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A photo of me cutting the glass as my mom grinds the edges of each piece. This allows for the pieces to fit together like a puzzle. The next step is to wrap the edges of each piece in copper foil.

 

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After each piece is cut and ground, it’s time to start fitting them together. A perfect fit is important; it allows the solder to strongly hold the pieces together.

 

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This project was so large, that I could only fit half of it at a time on the flat wooden frame that I use for squaring (my wooden squaring frame is from Glass by Grammy of Salisbury, Maryland). This is the bottom half of the panel. The final stained glass panel measured approx. 22″ wide x 32″ tall.

 

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Here I go with the soldering of the top half! Each piece has its edges wrapped in copper foil. The solder is then applied to the copper foil. This chemical reaction results in a super-strong joint between the foil-wrapped glass pieces. Eventually, the entire project was placed in a sturdy wooden frame for hanging. In my opinion, a glass project is not finished until it is beautifully framed.

 

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Whoa! I was so proud when I could finally lift up the finished panel and see the sunlight streaming through.

 

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All set and ready for framing! A big thank-you goes out to Jeff Evans for commissioning this unique project. This certainly is a showpiece in my portfolio! I also owe many thanks to my mom, Sharon Hazel, and Carolyn Adkins of Glass by Grammy for helping me see this project through.

 

 

 

UMD Community Learning Garden Banner

Check out our crew in front of the fancy new UMD Community Learning Garden banner! We are but a few of many burgeoning gardeners who meet at 4 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays to learn about sustainable food production and help tend the raised beds and terraced plots.

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At the official hoisting of the garden banner last Monday. I ended up in the middle of the photo. This is awesome.

Sustainable Ag advisor Meredith Epstein (middle, in teal) manages the garden and leads the work hours. When I started working with Meredith at the Institute of Applied Agriculture, the garden quickly became one of my favorite spots on campus. This summer I grew soybeans, pole beans, green peppers, tomatoes, kale, thyme, sage, and basil in my garden plot.

I was excited when Meredith asked me to design a 12×4′ banner for the garden. I had previously made a sticker design for the garden club, so I took this as an opportunity to build consistent branding by pairing the same colors and fonts with the provided terp/carrot logo.

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At 12′ wide by 4′ tall, if you can’t see the banner to find the garden I feel bad for you.

The UMD Community Learning Garden is one of four campus gardens at the University of Maryland, College Park. Formerly called the Public Health Garden, it is nestled between the School of Public Health and the Eppley Recreation Center. You should definitely follow on Instagram.

I Went Viral

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Last fall, my co-worker Larisa Cioaca presented me with some statistics about Maryland agriculture and a request to create an infographic. Larisa is the Agricultural Business Management lecturer and advisor at the Institute of Applied Agriculture (IAA), where I am the Student Services Coordinator and Graphic Designer.

The project was shelved for a little while, but I eventually put it together and posted it on the IAA Facebook page last Friday at 10:00 a.m.

As of right now (11:00 a.m. on Sunday) it has 40 likes and 84 shares. Whaaat? Why wasn’t there this much hype about my Open House post?

I credit Meredith Epstein, lecturer and advisor of the Sustainable Agriculture course of study at the IAA, with the idea of drawing male AND female farmers in the “350,000 Marylanders” block. Because: equality.

I feel so affirmed by my newfound ag peers. I look forward to creating the next infographic for the IAA, Alternative Agriculture in Maryland.

Please feel free to download the infographic from the IAA website for printing and posting in classrooms.

**Update: We are now up to 121 shares! Whaaat?

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USG Recruitment Folder

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USG-RecruitmentMy biggest design project of the Fall semester at The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) was definitely our new recruitment folder. Our marketing team needed to cram as much information into this piece as possible, since USG is a unique campus and also fairly new. As a result, a lot of locals don’t realize that they can earn a bachelor’s degree without leaving Montgomery County. Hopefully they will now!

Here is my shameless plug of the day: USG offers programs from nine Maryland public universities on one campus. The list of schools includes:

• Bowie State University
• Salisbury University
• Towson University
• University of Baltimore
• University of Maryland, Baltimore
• UMBC
• University of Maryland, College Park
• University of Maryland, Eastern Shore
• UMUC

Want to become an Registered Nurse or Pharmacist without driving to Baltimore for class every day? Boom, we have it. Want to major in Hospitality and Tourism Management without relocating to the Eastern Shore? We have that too. There is no such thing as a degree from USG; when you finish your program, you receive your diploma from your home campus (SU, UMD, UMES, et cetera).

Another point that we took special care to emphasize in the folder is that much like you would find on a traditional campus, USG offers a library, gym, bookstore, café and an Office of Student Services. The only thing we are missing are the dormitories. A pretty big perk of working here is that they are paying for me to earn my M.S. in Marketing Management from UMUC. USG makes higher education accessible for a lot of people, myself included.

The bottom line is: If you want to earn a bachelor’s degree at a beautiful campus with free parking while still getting to live at home and eat your parents’ food, then you should visit USG’s Academics page and check out the USG Recruitment Twitter feed.

Click on any of the tiles below to view close-up images of the recruitment folder.