Monday, September 29, 2008

Am I boring?

Got a chance to talk with CB this morning. I set my alarm for 5:15 am and it was 9:15 pm in Sydney. We talked for about an hour and I feel like we got caught up with what was going on with each other.

After I got off the phone, though, I thought about the things that had been going on over the last few days. You know, the stuff you talk about with someone who wants to know what you've been up to, and it went something like: hanging out with Mr W, doing housework, doing garden stuff, knitting, oh, a friend stopped over on Saturday, um, I think I'm going to have to go back to the dentist, um... umm... I'm still sore about having my manuscript returned... and that's about it.

I thought, 'god, I'm so boring'. Things seem exaggeratedly routine (if there is such a thing) when the other person is traveling on the other side of the world. And I've been on this knitting kick; I really like to sit down in the evening after the kid goes to bed and work on my stuff. I'm getting better at it and I enjoy it a lot. I'd post a picture of the socks I'm working on, but they're for CB and I don't want to ruin the surprise...

I don't know, it was this weird juxtaposition of doing things like gardening and knitting that I really do enjoy and actually don't think are boring, and having to talk about them, which made them sound boring.

I know I'm not really boring (I hope!), it was just a strange feeling.

In other news,
My boss gave a talk today that included the project I recently completed, as well as my coworker's ongoing work. There were four talks in the session, he was the first, and they asked people to hold questions until the end.

At the end, our director asked a good question about my stuff, and then someone else asked another question and both questions addressed areas of research I've told my boss that I want to pursue as a result of the work I did. He said we were working on those things and would eventually publish what we found out. Yea!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Aaaaahhhh Saturday

I have a long list of things I'd like to get done today. The weather is going to be nice, so my plan is to:

1. Organize my garage - there's one narrow path through the clutter and it's annoying me

2. Cut the grass - *rolls eyes* I dislike this job, but it needs to be done

3. Rearrange the painted rocks - picture of whimsical and clever yard art forthcoming

4. Begin Fall cleanup of garden - it's time to prune the 10' rose bush - yikes!!

5. Clean out my car - will assign window cleaning to Mr W, who is angling for an extra $5 to tack on to his allowance money to buy another Lego toy. I hope to get some work out of him...

I guess that's it. It's a beautiful day in CO today, and I'm glad to be here to enjoy it.

In other news,

CB is in Australia for the next three weeks, leading a bird watching tour across half of the country. The time change presents a challenge for communicating. It's 8 hours earlier, on the next day over there. So I can get up at 5 am and talk to him before he goes to bed, or he can call me at work when he gets up in the morning.

We've done a lot of chatting on Skype, which lets you call a place through your computer for very cheap rates. If he's got a good connection then we'll video chat, but if not, then I can call his hotel with my computer (yes, the technology was news to me too) and talk to him that way.

The tour has a pelagic (ocean bird) trip before the rest of the tour starts, and he reported that he got a good look at one of these, a Blue Shark:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Remind me, next year about this time

I'm very happy with how my garden turned out this year. It was the first year I had everything planted for my side garden, which runs along an alley. I also have a side yard on the other side of the house, but hardly ever go there except to cut the grass. It gets too hot out there in the summer, and there's no shade.

I plan to remedy that sometime this winter by having my neighbor, who has a remodeling company, take out the windows of my front porch area, which was enclosed years ago. It's a house and neighborhood that are very amenable to front porches, and it will give me a place to be outside (and still have my internet connection :-)
Like I said, I like how my garden turned out this year, and will post some pictures soon. I'm especially happy with my well-behaved pumpkins, which stayed more or less confined to the area I gave them, as opposed to making a run across the alley.

But I always, at least since I've owned houses and gardened, feel a tad bit of remorse at this time of year that I did not plant flowers that have their peak flowering at the beginning of fall. I vow to remember to do it the next year, and am swept away at the nursery by the things that are flowering right then.

Sure enough, we were walking around the neighborhood and I saw the two things I wish were in my garden right now:

Japanese Anemone (Anemone sp.), part of the Buttercup family.

And the other are New England Asters (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) of the Aster family. They are beautiful and a really vibrant shade of purple.

I'm going to go to a couple of nurseries around town this weekend and see if they have either of these. I might get lucky. If not, remind me next spring!!
I was able to find an Anemone at the garden center! I'm excited. They are supposed to like afternoon shade, so I tucked it in a corner and we'll see. It's very pretty!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I received an invitation to the dedication of the Continuing Care Nursery (not the NICU as I had originally heard) for my sister. I'm trying to think of a way to say this without being too melodramatic. Today marks 15 years since my mom died, again of cancer.

I think about what she would think of 'how I turned out' and I think she'd be proud. There are times when I could use her guidance, and it makes me feel that much worse that my sister's kids have to continue without their mom. It's not fair.

And I'm a little scared that if I'm not vigilant, I'll get sick and have to say goodbye to the people I love too. But this is more about missing Kris and Mom. So I will take a few minutes today and remember what these extraordinary women meant to me.

Monday, September 22, 2008

If you can read this, thank your immune system...

I had coffee yesterday with my coworker who had a kidney transplant. She looks amazing!!! Unbelievable that it's only been 5 weeks. Her impressive bounce back to wellness is largely due to her age (just 29). The match (from her brother) was so good, that if she takes care of it, she'll be able to get 25-30 years out of that kidney.

I got a brief lesson on how transplant patients' immune systems are tweaked to not reject their new organ. At this early stage, the doctors have her on anti's: anti-biotics, anti-fungals, anti-virals, to protect her while they are depressing her immune system with anti-rejection drugs. Then, once she's passed the magic 6 month mark, they'll be less concerned with rejection, and begin to tweak the mix of medications so that she has as much immune system as possible, yet won't reject the kidney.

And they have options, too. Apparently there are different meds that do the same thing and if a person gets side effects, there is often something else to try.

I was very impressed how it was obvious that transplants today have built on what's been done in the past. I know, I know, duh, but for example, they don't put the kidney where her old one was. Actually, where it is. They left it in. The new kidney is put a little to the side, and the surgeon goes in through the front.

I'm so happy she's OK. Unfortunately, her immunocompromised state makes it too risky for her to do lab work, so she'll do deskwork when she comes back. After that, she'll have to switch disciplines so she doesn't work with anything infectious to humans. Something like plant pathology. It's an awful bit of irony that we work at a facility that specifically studies infectious disease.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I'm done (I swear)

This is the yarn (yeah, the Bionicle is for scale :-)) I've purchased over the last month or so. In the three years or so since I've knitted things other than scarves, it has been a strictly seasonal venture. I love to knit from late August until about May. That's when the warm weather makes the prospect of a big wool thing on my lap unappealing.

My local yarn store had a sale after labor day, and I bought some yarn. I learned a good lesson too - I should get the pattern first, then get the yarn to suit the pattern. I like all the stuff I've bought, but there are a couple of things that I'll have to hunt around for a suitable pattern for. That's OK, it's good to have a stash.

I've had a thing for socks lately. I made a pair for CB for Christmas last year where I actually made three and gave him the best two. I just finished a pair for me (below) and have started another pair for CB. I like the portable nature of socks, and the ones with simple patterns (but it needs to have a pattern!) are the best right now.

So of course after I bought the first round, I was looking around Ravelry and found patterns that I really liked and wanted to try. Back to the yarn store, where I purchased the rest. I'm pretty sure I'm done buying yarn (and needles) for the season. The project list is loooonnngg. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to work on the socks for a while.

The Sister Kris Memorial NICU

I got an email from my dad the other day, saying that the hospital where my sister used to work is going to dedicate the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit - where she worked) to her. I don't have the details yet, but I think it's such a great thing.

It's a reflection of her coworkers, too. She had nothing to do with this gesture. What I mean is that it's the awesome (and I don't mean that glibly) people that she worked with that made this happen. I wish I could be there.

She took a lot of pride in her work, and even though she didn't have an official title beyond being a floor nurse, when she worked, everyone went to her for answers. She filled up the supplies and kept the less engaged nurses on their toes.

It's an appropriate way to honor her.

Am I drooling?

I just got back from the dentist. I hadn't been there for over a year, and was pleasantly surprised this past Tuesday to hear that I didn't have any cavities. However, I had two fillings that needed to be replaced, and we scheduled the appointment for today.

I have a long history with nerve-wracking dentist visits. Family lore has it that when I was around 6, I asked Dr. Rossi if he would shut the door so my mom in the waiting room wouldn't hear me cry. He was sort of the "let's see if we can do this without Novocaine", but not always; I remember that I got poked plenty.

It seemed like I usually had cavities when I'd go to the dentist, but I suppose I have fewer teeth than there were visits, so that can't be true. When I was a freshman in college, I was persuaded to be the state boards patient of someone working in Dr. Rossi's office. I agreed because I would get several fillings done for free, and she was a good dentist.

After that, the anxiety sort of snowballed. I remember one visit where I actually (and involuntarily) kicked the dentist's elbow because he hit a nerve while drilling. Then the nice dentist at the health center at school introduced me to the benefits of gas and Valium.

I have to get a ride home, but that combination works really well. I still get a little nervous, but by and large I'm just there. I'm able to be still, think about other things and get through it.

On the up side, my teeth are straight and I don't have any signs of gum disease. And hopefully future trips to the dentist will entail only the replacement of work already done, like the fillings I had replaced today. And one more up shot - one is a white filling - it's like I got a new tooth!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I'm a fan of the blog bioephemera, where Jessica brings together biology and art in lots of interesting ways that enhance the enjoyment of both disciplines. I've been digging around for new patterns to try and am part of a group of 'scientific knitters' on Ravelry, an online knitting community. DNA makes for a good pattern in a scarf or sweater.

Someone was looking for a pattern for knitting a brain. Yup, a brain. And perhaps more surprisingly, there were people offering options. One of them pointed to Sarah Illenberger, who knitted these wonderful organs.

How's that for the intersection of art and science?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Harmonic convergence?

No, not really, but every once in a great while, I get to sleep in. It's almost always my own doing that I don't sleep in on the weekends - there's so much to do, funwise and domestic duty-wise. The other times, Mr W's up so he can get a jump on his weekend. Funny how the prospect of a weekend makes a kid eager to be up at 6:30 am. We have worked out a deal where he's supposed to wait until 7 to see if I'm up and that works pretty well.

I've had a cold the last couple of days. It started as a sort throat when CB was here, and I thought it was because I wasn't drinking enough water, which happens sometimes - CO is a dry place. Yikes, the day after he left, I got a full-blown head cold.

So last night, as I was getting Mr W to bed, I said my usual, "don't bug me before 7 am", jokingly, of course. Wow, lo and behold, I wake up at 8:45, and it's quiet. Because I'm a mom, my first thought was, "I hope he's OK", and the dog was quiet in her crate. This just doesn't happen in my house, so I was pleased indeed.

There is no stealth in my house. The wooden floors make our comings and goings pretty obvious. So as I was turning the coffee pot on, he stirred and wanted to get up. So we're all just hangin' on a Saturday morning, me at the computer, dog with a chew toy, Mr W watching a movie about the Justice League.
I haven't had a cold for a while, and two nights ago, while I was laying down reading stories to Mr W before bed, I couldn't breathe at all through my nose. Nothing. I later took some cold medicine and it was better, but at the time, I thought about how uncomfortable it is when something we take for granted is taken away. Without getting all metaphorical about it, it did make me think about people who have chronic pain or nausea or whatever.

Yup, count yer blessings.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Isn't it cool

Back in July, there was this weird confluence of events around me getting back in touch with a friend from my high school days. The short version is, the day I found her on Facebook, she thought she saw my ex and Mr W driving in Yellowstone National Park on vacation. Quite the coincidence.

We grew up in Ohio, but she's worked around the US and overseas in the last decade or so, and is ready to settle in NY state. She's passing through CO on the way, so I'm excited to to get the chance to see her, and have her meet Mr W.

I wonder if it's because we shared some of our most formative years, but this friend is one of those people that I can pick-up-where-we-left-off with. Isn't that cool? It gives me a bit of insight as to why I am the way I am.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hand me my umbrella, will you?

Because when it rains it pours sometimes. I feel like I've sort of dodged most of this, but my brothers' families have been taking some hits lately. I feel sad for their losses.

My dear sister in law lost her dad to cancer over the weekend. Not unexpected at all as he was at the end and everyone knew it. It was going to happen any time now, and she said he passed peacefully.

But it is still a loss.

My other dear sister in law's grandfather passed about a week ago. I still am amazed at how long her grandparents have persisted. These grandparents who lived in the same house for a very long time, a lifetime, and who just recently moved "to town" so that they could be cared for in an assisted living situation. Imagine being 6 (the age of R and L's oldest daughter) and to not only have a doting grandma, but a doting greatgrandma as well. One of life's bonuses, to be sure. And it's a similar thing - not a surprise, but yet a loss, a hole is there.

To add insult to injury, R and L had to euthanize their nice little cat yesterday. Geez. Named Muenster (like the cheese), he was the companion of the now-passed Colby (big, orange, you get the picture) and was this geeky, bad-hipped little goofball of a cat that was a lot of fun to watch because you would swear he saw things the rest of us mere mortals could not.

Life does that sometimes. We have to sift through a lot of stuff at once, and only when it's passed and we've processed can we look back and say, "wow, that was tough." It reminds me to appreciate the times when life is not like that. When the big things I've got going on are getting the place ready for a CB visit, and trying to get Mr W and I into a smooth school-year schedule. Work is good, I have a good idea for a project that I'm going to pitch to my boss after having lunch tomorrow with one of my mentors and I'm happy the warm weather is done for the year. My kid is healthy and so full of questions lately (transportation using giant magnets, etc.). Heck, I even have three nice pumpkins from the garden that will look very nice on my porch.

It's what you make it, usually.