Saturday, April 7, 2012

Barbie Day!

Spring 2012dWow, what a beauty! I hope you’re all having as pretty a day as we are here at Nutwood.

After a nice, relaxing morning, I did my workout while Ken did some computer work for his job. Then he was off to Lowe’s to pick up some stuff for the house and lawn, and it warmed up enough that I got one of the lounge chairs out of the garage and spent a little sun time on the deck. While Ken did some yard stuff, I puttered on the deck and inside the house. The plan was for me to bake the baby back ribs in the oven, but it’s nice enough that Ken is going to be able to fire up the grill for the first time this season! Yum! I made some cucumbers and onions yesterday, too, so I guess it’s our first official barbecue. I love this time of year!

I finished one book (Book Three, Mountolive, of The Alexandria Quartet...I’ll be writing more about the whole thing when I finish Book Four, but it is just amazing, and I’m loving it) and started another (Attack of the Theocrats by Sean Faircloth), and in between did a quick read-through of a Time issue that has been waiting for me for several days. I also got a neat thing in the mail from the lovely Laurel of Afton Station: two Oklahoma guides for Route 66, as well as our first Route 66 postcard, from Afton Station! Which reminds me that I need to continue working on our itinerary. I’ve made good progress, but need to finalize some things in order to make reservations for some of the cooler old motels.

Completely different subject, but I think some of you might get as big a kick out of this as I did. A friend of a good friend (Milwaukee Dan #1) has proven to be more than a little unstable on Facebook, and has kind of gone ballistic in a couple of discussions. It seems that they are no longer friends, but I don’t know who defriended whom. The guy grew increasingly insulting to all of Dan’s friends who were commenting, and seemed to save his special ire for me. In his most recent flameout, he said that I agree with everything Dan says, and after calling us all “loosers,” he said that he hopes I can eventually form an opinion of my own and “Can you say yes woman.” Then he took his ball and went home. I’m not sure what that last thing meant, but he seemed to think that I am unable to form an opinion of my own and just agree with everything Dan says because I think Dan is so smart.

I’ll just let that sink in for a moment.

That’s right. I’m guessing that everyone who knows me, or who reads me here, would be the first to say that I am completely unopinionated. BAhahaha! I honestly can’t stop chuckling about this, because I mean...come ON! And for the record, I’ve known Dan for about 30 years, and I really do
think he’s smart. I don’t hang out with “loosers.”

Friday, April 6, 2012

ID Update

Spring 2012cMystery solved!

A while back, Ken and I encountered a local botanist on a nature hike, and we have stayed in touch. So I sent Scott the Botanist pictures of our flowering tree and the tiny little lawn flower.

Hi Beth. Nice to hear from you! The first plant is a Prunus (cherry), but I can't say which species. I don't have any experience with horticultural plants, and this is definitely a cultivar of some sort. Looking at photos online, the flowers look right for a weeping cherry, but that's the best I can do. The second photo looks like Veronica polita (wayside speedwell), a common lawn weed.

I did a little further checking online, and it looks like our cherry tree is a Kwanzan cherry. One of the easiest flowering trees to grow, huh? Guess that explains why I haven’t managed to kill it yet. And as I mentioned on one of my Facebook groups, Sociopathy and Flowers, Wayside Speedwell is my new rock and roll name. Hey kids, rock and roll...rock on!

I’m very happy to have finally put a name to that tree. I knew it was some sort of cherry, but was never able to pin down exactly what kind. We’ve lived here over ten years, and I’ve always wondered what it was.

Speaking of cherry trees, if anyone is interested, USA Network will be showing a 50th anniversary presentation of “To Kill A Mockingbird” at 8:00 pm Eastern. President Obama will be introducing the movie, and we plan on watching it. It’s such a wonderful movie, and it’s been quite a while since I saw it.

That wasn’t a very good segue, was it?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Here, there, and everywhere

Spring 2012hI’m going to deglaze the pan with a little wine, and scrape all the yummy bits off of the bottom. In other words, a few odds and ends and pictures, all mixed up together. (Warning: this is pretty mundane stuff.)

It’s been an early spring here at Nutwood, and across much of the country. This isn’t necessarily a good thing for fruit crops (we might get a freeze this week), but human beings are sure enjoying it! It’s been great to have the windows open and see everything get lush and green. I was worried that our flowering trees would get zapped, but they blossomed and are so pretty. It makes me happy to see them, and I hope it brings a smile to your face, too. I’ve been able to catch some rays already, and when I had my doctor’s appointment last week, she said, “You’ve got tan lines already!” I said, “We’ve had some nice days!” (She asked if I wear sunscreen, and I said that I don’t stay out that long. If I do, then I wear sunscreen. She said, “You really aren’t giving me anything to yell at you about.” Have I mentioned that I love my doctor?)

I’m not sure what the tiny little flowers are in the picture on the far right, but they are throughout the grass. They’re only 2-3 mm, and they seem to be some sort of tiny violet. The flowering tree is my favorite tree we have, and I think it is a Japanese Weeping Cherry. The flowers look like pink carnations, and I think it’s just a beautiful tree.

I’m still making good progress on my reading. I’m loving my current book club book, The Alexandria Quartet, and I’m on book three of the quartet. Things are heating up in Egypt and North Africa (the books are set during WWII), and there is much intrigue among members of the British Foreign Office and various characters in Alexandria. Personal and political! Books like these are the reasons I’m so glad I’m still doing this list. I would never have read it otherwise, and that would be a shame. I’m loving this one! I’ve got plenty of other books on queue, including Sean Faircloth’s Attack of the Theocrats and David Corn’s Showdown. (I’m happy to say that I am friends on Facebook with both gentlemen!)

CalphalonI splurged and got myself a seriously good sauté pan. I tend to replace pans every few years, because I don’t buy really expensive ones, and the nonstick interior starts to fail and get all scratched up. A while back, I found a good Calphalon saucepan on clearance, and it is so I wanted to get a Calphalon sauté pan that matched the saucepan. I haven’t tried it out yet, but this is the most I have ever spent on a pan, so this em-effer had better last for pretty much the rest of my life, and it had better be the best damn pan in the em-effin’ universe. Maybe I’ll try omelets in it this coming week, and I expect some seriously em-effin’ good omelets! For what I paid for this, the omelets should cook themselves and sit up and sing “Honky Tonk Women.” As you can see, I have mixed feelings about this pan. I want it to be awesome, but I have reservations about spending so much on a stupid pan. That being said, this thing is beautiful. A gleaming, smooth interior, a crystal clear lid, and a pristine grey outer surface. And the thing is huge and heavy
. I promise to care for you properly and even pamper you, Calphalon, so be nice back to me, okay?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The right to an opinion

EducationThis is a corollary entry to yesterday’s, in which I wondered about what sort of legacy we leave behind.

As I continued to read some old entries, I came across one in which it was said that I don’t have any right to an opinion on kids or their education because I don’t have children of my own. This is obviously absurd, but I’m going to explain why.

First of all, one does not have to experience something directly in order to have an opinion on it. This is why we have books and articles about things, and why it is possible to take a class and actually learn about a subject like archaeology, despite never having been on a dig. It’s not a difficult concept to grasp.

Secondly, as a taxpayer, I think I have a perfect right to let my legislators know how I feel about certain things concerning our public schools. This is why I wrote letters to my state Representative, my state Senator, and our Governor when Indiana was considering the idiotic bill that would allow the teaching of creationism in public science classrooms.

Thirdly—and this is related to the second point—as an American, I have a vested interest in our school system and what is being taught to American kids. As a microbiologist, I very much want our future leaders and researchers to be strongly grounded in science, rationality, and critical thinking.

As a woman, I am sick and tired of the attitude from some that not having children somehow makes me less of a person, one who is not entitled to speak her mind when it comes to education or what messages are being conveyed in our public schools. I am certainly not an expert when it comes to what one experiences when pregnant or when giving birth, or the day-to-day details of raising a child, and I have never pretended to be one; but when it comes to what goes on concerning the education of America’s students, I have just as much a right as anyone to voice my opinion.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Footprints coupleWow, what a gorgeous day! This morning, I watched a couple of deer frolicking and foraging in the back yard, along with some squirrels chasing each other. Birds were everywhere, I could hear the turkeys, and later on, I saw two rabbits chasing each other and a raccoon right outside the basement window chowing down on something. I commented on Facebook that our back yard looked like Disney! After running some errands, I did my workout and then spent some time out on the deck reading and soaking up some sun. It’s supposed to cool off again, but today was about as perfect as it gets. I hope your day was as pleasant (and for any Dallas-area readers, I hope you and yours are safe)!

Later this afternoon, I was reading some old entries and old correspondence, and it made me think about some things. In general, what we leave behind when we’re gone, and specifically, what I got and what lessons I learned from my parents.

From my Dad, I’d say that I got a love for books, travel, and a general curiosity about the world. From Mom, I got a sense of compassion for others, as well as a somewhat rather very strong streak of stubbornness. The latter is a double-edged sword: it can make me determined to do something, or it can make me dig in my heels about something even when I know I shouldn’t.

Both parents gave me a love for nature, an appreciation of history and our roots, and a sense of fairness and justice. I still can’t stand to see someone bullied, and I will step in if I see it happening. That means that I also have a strong aversion to being bullied myself, and attempts at intimidation and manipulation are more than makes me distrust and dislike such a person when they behave that way. I’d say I have what amounts to zero tolerance for such behavior.

So it makes me feel sad when I see that sort of legacy being passed on to others. I feel like I got so many good things from my parents, and it’s a shame when people pass long bad traits, including their own biases, neuroses, and manipulative behavior.

There are ways other than popping out a kid to leave a legacy. In every job that I’ve had, I left on good terms with the majority of people; I still have friends from high school and college; I’ve had people tell me that I inspired them in one way or another; and I taught many students and new employees in the lab over the years—technologists who have gone on to provide a valuable service to patients. I am far from a perfect person, and undoubtedly I have disappointed some...but I don’t believe I’ve influenced any other person to be angry or hateful in reflection of my own image. Because that is just not me.

That’s a legacy I’ll be happy to leave.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

And so it begins

Women work women voteMILWAUKEE – President Obama has opened the first significant lead of the 2012 campaign in the nation's dozen top battleground states, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, boosted by a huge shift of women to his side.

In the fifth Swing States survey taken since last fall, Obama leads Republican front-runner Mitt Romney 51%-42% among registered voters just a month after the president had trailed him by two percentage points.

The biggest change came among women under 50. In mid-February, just under half of those voters supported Obama. Now more than six in 10 do while Romney's support among them has dropped by 14 points, to 30%. The president leads him 2-1 in this group.

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina says Romney's promise to "end Planned Parenthood" — the former Massachusetts governor says he wants to eliminate federal funding for the group — and his endorsement of an amendment that would allow employers to refuse to cover contraception in health care plans have created "severe problems" for him in the general election.

"Romney's run to the right may be winning him Tea Party votes," Messina said in an interview, but he says it's demonstrated that "American women can't trust Romney to stand up for them."

Read the full article here.

When the Republicans started with their bullshit against women, I mentioned that in the 2008 election, women made up 53% of those who voted, and that we were not going to forget this.

Well, right on, Sisters! [fist in the air] We have received your message loud and clear, Republicans, and we are responding accordingly. Millions of women use Planned Parenthood every year, with only a small percentage of that for the purpose of abortions; they do good work in providing basic health care to millions of American women. The threat of cutting off all funds to the organization is seriously not cool. A bill introduced by a Republican legislator in Arizona would allow businesses to require a doctor’s note to show that a woman was using birth control for medical purposes, not for birth control. There is some talk of allowing employers to not pay for birth control if they have a “moral objection” to it. Perhaps they would like to accompany us to our doctors’ appointments to ensure that we don’t discuss anything they deem to be out of line or “morally objectionable.” Or maybe someone from the RNC will observe during my next pelvic exam, just to make sure I don’t deviate from acceptable topics, and so they can get a rundown on the general state of my uterus.

We are paying attention, and we are not liking what we’re seeing. I’m sure that Mittens will pivot to the center in the general election, and he’ll try to say that he didn’t mean it that way, or that he was taken out of context, and he’ll try to pretend that he cares about women’s health. He doesn’t. There is videotape to prove it. Women don’t forget much, or haven’t you figured that out yet, Mittens? We’re listening to what you are saying now. And we’ll be voting in November. You can put THAT in your ballot box and stuff it.