Another Great Granddaughter for Hazel Hurt

This will be the first of many posts about my great grandmother Hazel. Not many people have the opportunity to get to know their great grandparents very well, but I was fortunate.

As often as we could, my cousins and I would visit her out on her farm just outside of town. She lived in a brick duplex with a large garden, horses in the pasture, old farm buildings, and a sweet golf cart. It was a magnificent place to be a kid.

Obviously, there were plenty of things to do outside, but I enjoyed time indoors with my grandma just as much. She always had something for us to do or learn. She taught me how to paint, how to crochet, how to bake, and how to play her favorite card game, Skip-Bo.

Even though she passed away almost eight years ago, I still think about how much of an impact she has had on my life.

This past December during our Christmas family gathering, I asked my Aunt Pam about the journals my grandma would write in every night. Whenever I visited her, we would eat dinner, watch the news, and then she would write down the day's happenings in a little black weekly planner. My mom even remembers this when she was a kid. 

Hazel Hurt Journals

To my surprise, my aunt had all these journals in her basement, all 34 of them. One for each year. My aunt was kind enough to let me borrow them for the past few months. Every once in awhile, I pull one out and read specific dates to see what my grandmother wrote.

On my birthday this year, I read the entry she wrote on the day I was born: 

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44 - Thursday 13 - 75
Sunny. Wind - So - 8 MPH

Went to CR about 9:30 a.m. Stopped at Wright Way to get Mini fixed - gas leak.
At 1:30 HE (Howard) had 2 teeth and a snag pulled.
Got a few groceries. Also ordered cheese at Swiss Valley in C.C.
Took drapes to Dickeys for cleaning.
Kelly had a girl - 8 lb 2 oz. by C-section St. Lukes. Amanda Kay.

I'm not sure if it was the bookkeeper in her, or the lack of space in these planners, but her entries were always short and to the point. Only including the weather and the highlights of the day. Nothing emotional, nothing philosophical. I admired that. It also still blows my mind that she wrote in these journals every single day, from 1965 to 2002 (as far as I know).

On this particular day, they took their RV (Mini Home) to Cedar Rapids to get fixed. My great grandfather Howard (HE) had a few teeth pulled (funny enough, it was his birthday as well). She dropped her drapes off for cleaning, and based on the writing in the margins, found out about my birth after the evening news.

Even though she misspelled my middle name (probably was told over the phone), each time I see myself mentioned in these journals, it feels like seeing yourself cast in a movie. The charming story of my family, told over many years, about life on a farm in rural Iowa, written by an incredibly diligent narrator. I can't get enough.

The Country Bunny and The Little Gold Shoes

When I was a kid, I came across this book at our school library. I was completely drawn in by its illustrations. They were beautiful and bright and detailed, and I loved learning about the "real" story behind the Easter bunny.

About a year ago, some flicker of nostalgia reminded me of this book. I couldn't remember its name, but I desperately wanted to see the illustrations again. So after some internet sleuthing, I was able to find and purchase it on the internet (Thank you Amazon!). Although the copy I read as a kid seemed much bigger and dramatic, the illustrations were still just as beautiful.

After re-reading this book as an adult, I was delighted to find that the story contained feministic themes. Even though it was written in 1939, the story still holds up in today's world.

The book is about a little country girl bunny who is told she can never be one of the five elite Easter Bunnies. She grows up, gets married, and has 21 children (stick with me, here). She and her family go to the coronation of the next Easter Bunny and the Old Grandfather Rabbit notices how well-behaved her family is. He is so impressed, he makes her the next Easter Bunny. The last part of the story is about her journey in delivering a special Easter Egg to a sick child at the top of a cold, snowy mountain.

Pancho Barnes Was Way Cooler Than Amelia Earhart

Photo of Pancho Barnes from http://www.chuckyeager.com/.

The other day, I was flipping through channels when I settled in on a documentary on PBS. I was only partially paying attention at first, thinking it was just another typical show about aviation history, but then the narrator started discussing the "Powder Puff Derby," a transcontinental air race for women pilots back in 1947. The film covered how women pilots were never taken seriously back then, and how this infuriated one pilot, in particular, by the name of Florence Lowe Barnes, or better known as "Pancho."

It turns out, I was watching a documentary called The Legend of Pancho Barnes, and I must say, it didn't disappoint. Pancho was a badass. I audibly yelled out, "NO WAY!" about 20 times during the rest of the film. Some of the things she's done were unbelievable.

A few fun facts about Pancho:

  • She was one of the first female aviators and test pilots. 
  • Her first husband was a minister, but she still swore like a sailor.
  • Founded the first union for movie stunt pilots.
  • Raced alongside Amelia Earhart and broke Earhart's air speed record.
  • Survived a plane crash.
  • Owned the "Happy Bottom Riding Club," a bar and restaurant in the middle of the Mojave Desert that catered to pilots working at a nearby army air base.
  • Sued the US Air Force for raking her name through the mud while they were trying to steal her and.
  • Basically, didn't give a fuck about anything but pilots and planes.

The documentary is definitely worth a watch and it's free to watch on Hulu.

Post thumbnail photo from http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/

Hovenring, a Beautiful Suspension Bridge for Bicycles

The other day I came across this wonderful post from Ethan Siegel about a bike suspension bridge called the Hovenring. It was built in the Netherlands to connect three metropolitan areas: Eindhoven, Veldhoven, and Meerhoven. 

The designer in me loves the bridge's design and beauty. The cyclist in me was delighted to discover yet another creative solution for increasing bike traffic without getting in the way of vehicles.

While I think the new downtown Des Moines pedestrian bridge (officially named Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge) is a lovely eyepiece for the city, I wish there were more beautiful (yet functional) bridges for cyclists throughout the city.

I know, I know. We are already spoiled with over 100 miles of bike trails. But after my fair share of times crossing those rough, wooden slates in Water Works Park and near Principal Park, a girl can dream, right?

Image Hovenring and IPV Delft via   http://hovenring.com/   and   http://www.ipvdelft.nl/ .

Image Hovenring and IPV Delft via http://hovenring.com/ and http://www.ipvdelft.nl/.

Image Hovenring and IPV Delft via   http://hovenring.com/   and   http://www.ipvdelft.nl/ .

Image Hovenring and IPV Delft via http://hovenring.com/ and http://www.ipvdelft.nl/.

Image Hovenring and IPV Delft via   http://hovenring.com/   and   http://www.ipvdelft.nl/ .

Image Hovenring and IPV Delft via http://hovenring.com/ and http://www.ipvdelft.nl/.

Image Hovenring and IPV Delft via   http://hovenring.com/   and   http://www.ipvdelft.nl/ .

Image Hovenring and IPV Delft via http://hovenring.com/ and http://www.ipvdelft.nl/.

Image Hovenring and IPV Delft via   http://hovenring.com/   and   http://www.ipvdelft.nl/ .

Image Hovenring and IPV Delft via http://hovenring.com/ and http://www.ipvdelft.nl/.

Be sure to check out Ethan's post, which contains much more interesting background about the Hovenring project.

Waldi, The Greatest Olympic Mascot Of All Time

Every time the Olympics roll around, I tell myself, "Yeah, probably won't be watching much of that." But inevitably, I catch a few events on TV and get HOOKED, like really hooked. I'm pretty much an expert on curling, skeleton, and biathlon now.

Anyway, I feel as though every designer has something to say about the branding. But to be honest, I don't find that too interesting. It's usually pretty safe and boring, but the mascots, I find those fascinating. A minor part of the games that has often been poorly executed, but still has the potential to be amazing.

As I was researching past mascots, I came across this great infographic put together by the team at Well Done Web Design.

A gallery of past Olympic Mascots from 1968 and on. Published by Marie Elwood and her team at Well Done Web Design on Visual.ly.

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It was then I noticed Waldi, the mascot from the 1972 Games in Munich. How had I never seen this beautiful dachshund illustration before? I thought I had seen all things dachshund. Alas, the shapes, the colors, the simplicity–I fell in love.

Waldi was designed by Otl Aicher, the German designer behind the visual identity of Lufthansa airline. He also designed the pictograms of stick people used for the games that you now see on public signage everywhere. Oh, by the way, he also created the Rotis font family.

Waldi Wooden Toy. Photo by alphanumeric.

Waldi Poster. Photo by alphanumeric.

Cover of  Form Magazine . Issue 53 published in 1971.

Cover of Form Magazine. Issue 53 published in 1971.

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Rethinking The Airline Boarding Pass

Peter Smart, a UK designer, has put together a wonderful case study focused on improving the industry-standard boarding pass. His solution narrows in on key users, information hierarchy, the format, and even the branding. The end result is the same shape as the old passes, but can easily fold into a standard passport and uses few colors for printing – potentially making it a cost efficient improvement.

...as designers our aim should be to question what is otherwise accepted – a relentless mission to better, simplify and improve the experiences of other people.
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Nimona - Your New Favorite Super Villain Sidekick

I discovered Nimona a few months ago, read through all the panels available, got bummed there weren't more, then sorta forgot about it. Lucky for me, I came across it again this weekend and... new chapters! Now I'm all caught up and here to tell you to check it out

It's a great story about a super-villain with a pushy new sidekick who happens to be a shapeshifter and wants to get her evil on. Nimona is funny, energetic, confident, and can turn into sharks and dragons.

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The First Female Journalist Was One Determined Chick

President Adams regularly swam nude in the Potomac River. Anne Royall, the first American professional journalist, knew of Adams’ 5 a.m. swims. After being refused interviews with the president time after time, she went to the river, gathered his clothes, and sat on them until she had her interview. Before this, no female had interviewed a president.
POTUS.com

Parisian Apartment Discovered Untouched After 70 Years

According to this blog post, an apartment was abandoned during WWII after its owner fled to Southern France to avoid the impeding Nazi invasion. She left everything behind, including a valuable painting by artist Giovanni Boldini. This beautiful time capsule was only recently discovered after her death a few years ago. 

This painting by 19th century Italian painter Giovanni Boldini recently sold at auction for €2.1 million.

This painting by 19th century Italian painter Giovanni Boldini recently sold at auction for €2.1 million.

Designing A Better Cardboard Box - The Rapid Packing Container

Two undergraduate students at Cooper Union have built a better box, which could make a huge difference in the packing and shipping business, by saving time, money, and resources, and perhaps causing the shipping industry to beat a path to their door.
Treehugger.com

To me, it's things like this that truly represent what design is all about. It's not about creating something pretty. It's about identifying a problem and finding a solution. That solution in of itself, even something as mundane as a new cardboard box, can become something beautiful and inspiring.