Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014, The List

I'm a sucker for end of the year lists.  While eating Korean food with The Mister in Salina, Kansas last week, I noted, "Korean food definitely goes on the list for 2014, along with Boise."  Understandably perplexed, The Mister asked for clarification-- what, list, exactly, were we talking about?  And I didn't know, except that I knew that my 2014 list included Korean Food and Boise.
I've given it considerable thought since then, and have mentally constructed many variations of the 2014 list, including the witty accompanying commentary.  However, I have 11 minutes before I celebrate the beginning of 2015 with Dianthus and Aster (we are celebrating the new year in Newfoundland-- if one is not going to stay up until midnight, why not celebrate half an hour off from the rest of the world?) so I am going to post without commentary, with the hopes it will prompt me to write more.

  1. Korean Food
  2. Soccer
  3. Boise
  4. Cha cha cha
  5. CHASA
  6. Cauliflower
  7. Acting like a grown up
  8. Moving towards music
  9. Cultural exchanges within a culture
  10. Trees
That will do for now.  Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Not so deep

Image to accompany earlier posts on hills and fog.  Nov. 2014
When I planned Roots Year, I knew I was going to be seeing my cousins and aunts and uncles over the summer and the Mister's paternal connections at multiple points.  Shortly thereafter we were invited to the Mister's maternal family reunion and made the decision to spend Thanksgiving with his aunt and cousins rather than driving to see a large hall full of third and fourth cousins.

At each family occasion, and then again with the three funerals I attended in the last two months and the current holidays, I felt certain I would leave with something profound to say about roots here. I'd investigate who I am and then write thoughtful analogies between familial roots and botanical roots.  Perhaps I still will.  Someday.  I do want to. 

Disproportionate bases?
In the meantime, I watched the movie Wild with the Mister on Monday.  I think the Mister was disappointed, but the movie struck many hiking-related cords with me.  I was reminded of my Outward Bound experience, 23 days without a toilet in 1991, and the lessons I learned from it.  The big lesson, much like Cheryl Strayed's Wild lesson, was "I don't ever have to do this again."  Which seems flippant but was totally profound.

So, my thoughts from family gatherings are not deep: they mostly involve food, noses, and eyebrows, but perhaps that is not a problem.  Lots of roots are shallow.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sparkle where you may

My actual resolution for 2014* was to go to a sparkly dress event, wearing a sparkly dress.

Notice the cork corkscrewing through the air.
A week ago it looked clear that I was going to fail at this resolution.  I had sparkled in a pink dress with my Kansas friends over the summer, worn a dress to the opera in Colorado, and looked great in artsy painted silk at the food contest/benefit dinner at which The Mister was a judge, so I wasn't totally lacking in dress-up, but I hadn't worn a sparkly dress to a holiday party, which I publicly resolved to do.
Wife of Judge
Last Thursday afternoon I e-mailed a Kansas friend to find out if she were going to be in town this week.  By Friday morning we had a party planned for Monday.  And so I wore velvet and sparkles to eat snacks with friends in a small house in Kansas.  There were fewer of us than expected (crud is going around) and we talked about unemployment, funerals and weird skin conditions while acknowledging chronically ill spouses, miscarriage and depression.  There was no dancing, no men, and no pictures taken.  You'll have to take my word that our cheap jewels were outlandish.

Crying tears of consolation and clearing pet hair from my skirt was hardly with glittering ball of my imagination, however the evening was fabulous.  There was friendship. And in the glow of friendship, we all sparkle bright.

Thanks to you all for your friendship.

*Roots year continues until February.  I have thought lots and lots about family and metaphorical roots.  Someday I will organize the thoughts enough to type them.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

There's Something About Fog

These images may or may not reflect the mood around here, but they do speak to the weather.
Oct. 2006 West Virginia
I grew up mostly without fog and still find it noteworthy and mysterious.
July 2005 Newfoundland

May 2007, Ecuador

October 2006, West Virginia

Monday, November 24, 2014

Break out the beaters

Pie time is almost upon us.  I have been working on several blog posts about books, gardening, and metaphorical roots, and none of them is coming together well.  Still, I'm thinking about pies.  Like everyone else from the middle of the U.S,A,, pie baking is in my roots, and Thanksgiving, in particular, is the time to connect to these roots, via baking and eating pies.

Well, almost everyone else from the middle of the U.S.A.  Except most of my students.  And the Mister's extended family, some of whom seem to think that chocolate cherry cake is acceptable Thanksgiving food.  And my (competent adult) cousin who has never whipped cream.  And my grandmother on the other side and . . . well.  Anyway, I think that I am rooted in Thanksgiving pie culture, and I'm looking forward to baking something that looks like these on Wednesday.

Pumpkin and Mincemeat Nov. 2012
Pumpkin and Cranberry Walnut Nov. 2013

I don't have photos of the guests (my parents or the Mister's parents) at either of these Thanksgiving dinners, but I guess that doesn't surprise me as much as the fact that I could only find photographs of the most recent four Thanksgiving pies in a quick search.

Note to cousin K: Buy some cream.  Chill a bowl and some beaters.  You can do it!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Phenology Report: Fog

With the tenure document, strep throat, pink eye, and all, I missed most of October (although I did get out of town three of the four weekends and learned fall was beautiful in other parts*).  I recall October being very warm.

November started out with a dreary gray weekend just to prove that it wasn't still October, before reverting back to the warmth of October.  The boys and I planted bulbs on Nov. 8 and the asters and cowpen daisies were still blooming and none of our leaves had turned, much less fallen. I was out counting the last of my main population of cyclanthera (345 individuals, in an area we've never had more than 170 and had as few as 14 in 2011) in short sleeves on Monday, Nov. 10 (it was 78 degrees F, after all) before the wind swept in and our first freeze hit the low 20s that night.  During the days of bitter cold that followed, all of the pecan leaves (still fully green), freeze dried and fell off, mostly coming down on Thursday night.

Saturday we had a great time playing in the leaves and Sunday (Nov. 16) it snowed all day, with accumulations enough to cancel school on Monday.  (Something that would not have happened back in my day, I tell you.)  Thursday and Friday were lovely days for playing outside and today was foggy, almost all day.

A full foggy day is weird.

I hope to write about my roots soon, in the meantime, enjoy whatever November is throwing at you.

*including camping in far Western Oklahoma for BioBlitz during which we inaugurated our new tent on a cold frosty night that came out of nowhere.

Monday, November 10, 2014


It is rather frightening how fast they are growing up . . . sometimes.
Aster glowed as a firefighter and Dianthus rocked the classic ghost look.  Our jack-o-lantern was also modified classic-- my parents were big into ears and I've decided in recent years (okay, the last twenty) that eyebrows are an important touch.
I had nothing to do with Dianthus lining up his loot (75 pieces visible.  We only went to 9 houses! When did some houses start giving ten pieces per house?), so it also scares me, a bit, that he came up with this behavior entirely on his own.  Five year-old me would have sorted by color and size.
To see just how much they have grown, you can visit Dianthus as a black cat in 2009, Dianthus as a young punk in 2010, Aster as a black cat and Dianthus as a Hawaiian firefighter in 2011, Dianthus as a firefighter and Aster as a rock star in 2012, and the mysterious costumes of 2013.

To better see the eyebrows

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Still not flat

Sunrise and shadow selfie in Central Kansas over the weekend.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Forward progress, results not in

Some updates on some of the many things going on in our lives:
1)  The Mister will be the judge at the Tree to Table Event to support on Tuesday.  I'll be contacting those of you who offered to pitch in.  I'm very excited, having found both a sub for my lab and a babysitter.  I had even figured out what to wear before I heard the recent weather forecast. 
2) The Royals are in the World Series!  Yes, we are excited.  It is tied 1-1 as of writing.
3) My tenure document in all of its beautifully tabbed, color-coded glory, was turned in on Monday.  I should hear in April about the outcome.
4) We are headed to Kansas for the funeral of one of Jeff's uncles who will be much missed.  I've mentioned before that I am not sure about how to write about such things, other than to remind my father, father-in-law, brother and brother-in-law that you are somebody's cherished uncles and please take care of yourselves.  It is also the anniversary of the death of my uncle who died far too young, and a colleague just died and . . . . Well, life is uncertain.  Please enjoy it.
5) I have three times as many plants in my study population as in the past.  This is not making the field season finish quickly, although it is interesting.
6) 90 degrees F in late October it too hot.
7) Soccer in the evenings makes the boys in my life cranky.  Or maybe just me.  I'm okay that the season is ending on Tuesday.
8) Eastern Oklahoma was beautiful last week, even though most of the trees hadn't turned.
9) The boys are growing up.
10) I still can't rotate photos when I use this computer.  Hmmm.  Happy Fall.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Bid Rigging

There's a lot going on in our lives right now, from the fun (Dianthus and Aster had a great time camping at BioBlitz), to the very sad (loss of part of the Mister's extended family), to the annoying (strep throat, bacterial pink eye and weird metallic taste in my mouth within two weeks, and now the Mister is sick).  And then there are the exams I'm grading.  And the Broncos winning.  And the ROYALS SWEEPING THE ANGELS!
And that pesky tenure document that is not organizing itself.
Anyway, I am not writing about any of those at the moment.  Rather I am seeking your assistance in securing a great birthday present for the Mister (The Royals shirt is great, and, fortunately, the Royals have won since I washed the shirt-- otherwise we might have had an issue on our hands).
See, for our special birthday meal this year I decided to take him to a food competition/benefit dinner because the theme interests me ("tree to table") the competition looks good, and the cause (trees; specifically orchards near schools and shelters and help re-planting tree after tornadoes) is something I support.
Alex Guarnaschelli and Dave Cathey, both of whom I adore (one of whom is an Iron Chef, the other is the local "Food Dude") are the judges, and the third judges spot goes to the highest bidder.  Wouldn't you like to see The Mister, instead of some rich socialite or snobby food industry insider, judge such an event?  One a whim I bid for him for a birthday present.  Then, when I wasn't immediately out-bid, I realized that I really think it would be a lot of fun, and that he would be a great judge.  If you would like to contribute to Oklahoma orchards, please consider donating through me so that I can bid again should the need arise (only one person has bid against me, but bidding ends tomorrow and who knows what will happen).

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pinning my hopes on the Royals (Royals! Really?)

 The Mister will tell me that his hasn't given up on his Chiefs, but for all intents and purposes the athletic teams we now have hopes for in this household are the Broncos and the Royals.
When I moved to Kansas (14 years ago!), I added the Royals as my American League team (no conflict with my pro-Rockies and pro-Cubs allegiances) and the Mister has always been a fan, so cheering for the Royals is nothing new.  And, frankly, giving up on college football early in the season (CU and KU are not exactly powerhouses these days, and SWOSU has never been) has happened many times before.
But the Royals at the end of the September!
We are in uncharted territory here.

[The Mister is getting a royal blue shirt for his birthday today.  I'd tell you to keep it a secret, but Aster ran to greet him yesterday with a statement that went something like, "Daddy, a package came for you in the mail.  Mommy is hiding your shirt.  When are we going to open your birthday surprise blue shirt?]

Monday, September 22, 2014

As promised

We ran in the mud.
I don't have any of those promised thoughtful musings, and probably won't for another month.
In the meantime, go enjoy yourself some autumn.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

School Started; There Was a Big Spider; It Rained

Due to a monstrous vortex of independently small issues, which I may whine about in full when they are not dominating my life, I find myself more overwhelmed than ever by "regular" work, just at a time when I should be working on my tenure documents, field work, garden, family back-to-school routine (and perhaps soccer, fitness, and parents' and husband's birthdays).  Alas.
School started four weeks ago.  The boys continue to love it.  Aster cries on Fridays when he doesn't get to go.
I saw this giant spider actively snagging and wrapping the grasshopper.
It rained Saturday, and it was wonderful.
I'm running in mud this Saturday and I'll write something thoughtful again someday, or so I have promised myself.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Kings, Kites, and Cauliflowers

The monarch butterflies seem to be migrating through town today.  It feels early, but I don't know if it is.

The Mississippi Kites are, by and large, are gone.  They've mostly been gone for a week.  It's much harder to note their emigration than immigration, but around the first day of school (August 20), they were actively congregating, and when we visited the park on Thursday (for it was not over 100 degrees, as it had been every previous day this week), we did not experience any eerie diving attacks.

Beet Down at DIA Root Down
The Mister is in charge of fruit and vegetable orders through Bountiful Baskets and frequently orders something beyond the regular fruit and vegetable basket.  Two weeks ago we received a case of cauliflower.  We had thirteen heads of cauliflower and I am pleased to report that, prior to picking up today's baskets, we were down to one head.  Having eaten twelve heads of cauliflower in fourteen days for the first time in my life, I can now authoritatively say that I love cauliflower, particularly the way the Mister fixes it with Indian spices, and I am actually happy to have picked up two more heads today.  It's the four bunches of celery and the fourteen prickly pear fruits for which I don't have a plan.  Suggestions?

Here's a picture of a Beet Down, by the way.

No, there is no point or theme here in this post.  School is underway; I am already behind; youth soccer may or may not start next week; my son's are in grades 0 and -2 according to the official paperwork; the Mister, Dianthus and Aster are in Kansas attending a rodeo tomorrow while I organize documents documenting how well I profess (and pick up vegetables).

One of my students reported that watermelon is her favorite vegetable.  She can do this because watermelon is the official state vegetable of Oklahoma.  Really.  This bothers me far more than it should.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fruition and Warning

After two days of prurient content, I am happy to present imagery no more lascivious than a pregnant or breastfeeding mother.  This should also be a warning to all of the flowers from Sunday's post; if you keep dangling your stigma out like that, you might end up all fat and sprogged up like this.

[For those of you wondering why I am prepping posts of plant pictures and bad puns on Sunday afternoon when school is about to start, rather than, say, working on my syllabi, I should add that there are lots of practical reasons (computer incompatibility, napping kid that I can't disturb with cleaning, non-napping kid that I must supervise rather than errand running and so forth) and there is plain ol' wanting to extend summer for just a few more minutes.]

Monday, August 18, 2014


After I explained that petals weren't reproductive, the crazy woman in the back of the classroom (there's always at least one, but this was my first year teaching and I didn't realize it), blurted out, "so petals are basically the makeup and perfume?"
Somehow I couldn't resist replying, "Yes, if the makeup and perfume attract the guy driving the sperm delivery truck, and he is a member of an entirely different kingdom of organisms."
Plant sex, with its animal intermediaries, just doesn't have any analogous practices among humans.
Many of these were taken on a cool day in Idaho.  You just never know when you are going to find the action.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Without the artful cropping they'd be pornographic

I'm about to crash hard into the school year (new adventures for all four of us, and we are not prepared, either physically, materially or emotionally) tomorrow.
So I'll set up a series of salacious plant images today.  Today is "alluring parts" tomorrow, "action" and then it will all come to "fruition".

 You're welcome.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

And sometimes it just gets blurry

Except for the small parts of plants in sharp focus, much of the last five weeks has been a blur.
Oh, and we also went to a Chihuly exhibit at
Denver Botanic Gardens
The boys have taken swimming lessons, camped, fished, cranked ice cream, turned three and five, seen both of their first cousins, all of their grandparents, all of their aunts and uncles, all of their great aunts and uncles, all but one of their maternal second cousins and all of their maternal first cousins once removed, run around like maniacs, played at three libraries, ridden the train, visited museums (train, dinosaur, farm implement, and Mississippi River)  flown a kite, eaten way too much mac and cheese, mini-golfed and made s'mores three or four times.  One of them saw several medical specialists and one visited a new state (Dianthus had previously crossed Illinois, and both  have been to Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri).
The Mister and I did all of this, with slight variations in the relationships of relatives visited, amount of mac and cheese consumed, and museum specifics; and also threw a party, attended the opera, ate wonderfully in Boise, presented at a conference, learned about herbarium digitization, learned that we are not teaching what we thought we were this coming semester, hiked, and saw graduate school and high school friends.
I really didn't take these pictures in lower light in order to make them blurry.  Constant motion can just be hard to capture.

And gardened with grandpa

Green ball in the air.