Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Yesterday was another work day in the field. The mockingbird nest I found last week with cute little eggs now has 4 cute little fuzzy nestlings. They must be less than a week old because none of the babies even had their eyes open yet.

I learned a new fact about ospreys: they will poop bomb intruders near their nest. Luckily I didn't discover this firsthand.

Monday, June 28, 2004

I heard the peanut's heartbeat for the first time today! I had my 14 week appointment (even though I'm still technically in my 13th week). Ohmygod it was amazing. The heartbeat was so loud and obvious...the doctor found it right away. I immediately started to cry I was so happy and relieved. The doctor also listened for my heartbeat in the placenta which was audible, but softer and slower. In two weeks I go for the triple-screen test. Fingers are crossed. I'm still nervous and worried as heck, but I think hubby and I are going to let the cat out of the bag and tell everyone.

The bad news - Mom's not doing so hot. She thought she needed admittance to the crisis unit last week. Her doctor decided not to admit her, but told her to up the anti-depressant, stop taking the painkillers for her back, to come back in 10 days, and to have a therapist by the time she goes back. I think a combination of things led to her going unstable: she's been in severe back pain since she came back from visiting family a few weeks ago. She saw a new neurosurgeon who put her on painkillers which can (and did) have a downer effect, and her shrink is moving away within a month. She also is dealing with my grandmother's dementia. Gramma is 93, in a nursing home, and when Mom visited, she had no idea who Mom was. She's done that with other family members, and the only ones she really knows anymore are my aunt and uncle who still live nearby and can visit regularly. She has days when she doesn't even know who they are, either. Mom was aware of all that, but actually visiting Gramma and seeing firsthand how far gone she is was hard to handle.

I saw Mom this weekend and took her to the grocery store and she was doing fairly well. She didn't cry and even laughed a little. I hope she can quickly get stable.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Yesterday I spent a very hot day in the field. We're setting up for a new field experiment and had to label out plots and collect pre-experiment baseline samples. It was hotter than hell out there and I was dragging my sorry ass. Today I'm completely pooped even though I napped during the rides to and from the field site.

Even though I hate the heat, I really enjoy that site. We've had ongoing projects there as long as I've worked at this job. They try to use less chemicals than commercial operations and have lots of wildlife. Yesterday I found a mockingbird nest with 4 tiny, beautiful beige and blue speckled eggs. I also saw several red-headed woodpeckers and killdeer and hear a cardinal calling. Usually we'll see a few bunnies and an occasional black racer, but none this time. They even used to have a resident screech owl who moved on when construction began at the adjacent property.


I heard on the news yesterday that thsex-discrimination class action lawsuit against W@l*M@art will go ahead. Some 1.6 million women will be eligible. I'm so happy it's finally happening. I hope the women win and get fair compensation.


Over the past week, I saw some great movies/shows.

First was the Magdalene Sisters. It wasn't an easy movie to watch, and I had been building myself up to watching it for several months. It was a wonderful, yet horrific, movie. In Ireland from the turn of the 20th century until the mid 1990's, the Catholic Church ran Magdalene Laundries. They were basically jails run by nuns where unwed mothers and otherwise "slutty" girls were sent to do penance for their "sins" a la Mary Magdalene. Many women lived out their whole lives in these prisons, beaten for speaking to outsiders, often sexually abused by the priests, and ridiculed by the nuns. The DVD included a documentary about several women who had lived in the laundries and were either removed by their families or escaped. One woman recollected how on Saturday nights, the girls were forced to line up and strip to have their bodies ridiculed by the nuns.

The church did a very good job of covering all this up. Most people that lived near the laundries had no idea how bad things were on the inside and the church has never released records of how many women were held in the laundries or how many died while in custody.

Over the weekend, hubby and I rented 50 First Dates. It was hilarious and sweet. I used to hate Adam Sandler (I still don't care for his stand-up) but I've grown to really like his movies. If you're in the mood for something goofy and light, I'd recommend it.

I also saw Margaret Cho's Revolution. She is my new hero!! She's funny as hell and manages to bring the issues of feminism, racism, and homophobia into her show. Did I mention she had me rolling one minute and totally pissed of at racist/homophobic/sexist assholes the next?

Friday, June 18, 2004

I learned something new about ospreys today.

They can projectile poop.

I was watching the nest, and admiring how doting a parent the momma bird is. (I'm guessing it was the momma since one bird is always at the nest). She hunkered over, lifted her tail feathers, and shot out a stream of poop, aiming it far away from the nest.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The ospreys definitely have babies. I saw a fluffy little noggin peeking out from the nest today under the watchful eyes of momma bird. A coworker said he saw two little noggins the other day.

Monday, June 14, 2004

I've been a complete bum when it comes to blogging. Honestly, not much exciting has been going on. I'm certainly not complaining about that - I'm tired most of the time and still feeling nauseous a lot of the time. So I'm happy things are sailing along on an even keel.

Last week I attended a scientific meeting in a nearby city (think mouse with big ears). It was nice to be out of town for a couple days and even nicer to stay for free at a hotel. Hubby came out one night for dinner. We picked a very nice Japanese restaurant and I started feeling so queasy I could barely eat. At least Hubby enjoyed the good food.

Our big events this past weekend were walking the dog and going out to dinner. (See, exciting.) We haven't been taking Lily for many walks, other than quick potty breaks in the backyard, since the rainy season started. The thunderstorms start rolling in around 5 pm, which means they're usually just in time for my drive home. An interstate with lots of construction + stupid drivers + deluge = scary ride home. By the time I get to the house, the storms are usually full on with lots of lightning. Lily and I both are afraid of lightning, so taking her out isn't fun for either of us. By the time everything passes over I'm passed out on the couch or in bed.

Friday night the storms had passed by 9 or 10, so we took her for a stroll around the neighborhood. She was so happy to get a real walk. A few houses down the street we saw a baby possum zooming around. It saw us and took off. The little bugger was adorable. We hope he's big enough to fend for himself, because we think the momma was killed earlier that morning. We both saw a roadkill on our ways in to work. A little further down the road are the retention ponds. The frogs and toads are full on into chorus mode now that the rains have started. We heard at least 5 different species calling - way cool. I miss the spring peepers from back home, but the symphony of frogs makes up for it.

Saturday night we went out for dinner - a big event given the recent status of my tummy. We went to a local chain known for its beer brewed right at the restaurant (which, of course, I didn't have any of) and for its steaks. I'll call the place "Grain's". If you live around here, you'll know the place I mean. Usually the service is very good and the manager generally goes around and checks all the tables. Well, the manager must have been off that night. Our waiter came by to take our order and drop off our drinks. Another waiter dropped off the appetizer - and it was wrong. Our dinners arrived and shortly after the correct appetizer came - this time lukewarm. Hubby just dealt with a raging case of food poisoning a few weeks back, and I don't want to take any risks about getting sick. Hot food should be served hot and cold food should be served cold. Period. Then I realized I had no spoon for my soup. We finally flagged down a passing waiter and asked for one. 5-10 minutes go by and no spoon. Hubby finally spots our waiter, gets his attention, asks for a spoon and sends the app back. After another 5 or so minutes, waiter comes back with spoon. He did make good by taking the appetizer off our bill, but not once did he check on us to see if everything was alright. Now I know waiting tables isn't easy. I've been there and worked my share of crappy restaurants (think $honey's late night breakfast bar and drunks who don't want to leave at 2 am closing). But the restaurant was half empty and our waiter disappeared for 15 minute stretches of time. Not good service by a long shot.

Like I said, real exciting stuff.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

The peanut has a heartbeat, yay! I had my first OB appointment and ultrasound and things look good. I'm only at the start of my 10th week, so I know we're not out of the first-trimester woods yet. I also may have a fibroid on the anterior of my uterus, but the OB didn't seem concerned. I guess if I was going to have one, it was a "good" spot.


I'm pretty sure the ospreys at work have young now. The momma and daddy birds have been hanging around the nest a whole lot and I've heard one of them (I'm guessing the momma) make quiet little chirping noises to the nest. Well, today I heard little peepy chirps in response! I really hope I'll get to see the young'uns fledge.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

I saw a swallow-tailed kite on the way home from work tonight. They are simply gorgeous birds.


I was thinking about my last post and the bitching about stinkhorn (which DO deserve bitching) and realized I sound as if I hate fungi. I don't. I actually love fungi. I love to see a new mushroom and identify it. I love to eat mushrooms. Puffballs are very yummy, but if you're thinking about trying stuff you pick yourself, make sure you have your mushrooms positively identified. Many are very toxic, and many can cause allergies and icky reactions if ingested. Fungi also pay the bills. Literally. Most of my research at work involves a fungus which is damaging to a food crop. We research chemicals for control and test new varieties of plant for resistance.

Some of my favorites are:

Striate bird's nest fungus


Amanita muscaria (poisonous)

Slime mold (genus Physarum)

British soldier lichen (OK, it's a lichen, but it's still half fungus!)

Ganoderma lucidum These are often called "artist's conks" and are used as a medium for folk painting.

Morels Supposed to be very yummy. I've never tried one.

Downy mildew These fungi cause serious diseases of crops, but their spores and sporangia (spore bearing structures) are gorgeous.

Stem rust of wheat Also very damaging to crops, but beautiful. The rust fungi also have very complicated life cycles, usually requiring 2 host species.