What's on my mind.

27 September 2007


Mom's been doing so well this last week or so. Saturday I drove her to the mall and grocery store and she was calm and rational about her not being able to see well enough. Sunday she seemed in good spirits at Nettie's party, if a bit tired at the end. Then she calls me today and starts crying. I don't know what to say, I never do. I sometimes wish I could just run away.

Mom has a macular pucker in her left eye (I think). She first noticed a problem back in late May early June. She went to the eye doctor after we visited Anna; he diagnosed it and referred her to the local retinal specialist. The eye doc said that these things move slowly and surgery isn't done until one's vision is significantly effected, i.e. loss of vision affects one's daily life. She was suppose to see the specialist in October. The pucker got worse. By mid-July Mom couldn't read paperbacks anymore. Reading Harry Potter to Nettie in the car was hard. I finally nagged her into calling the specialist and seeing if she could get an appointment sooner. He saw her the next week (now early Sept). With her glasses on, she could only read the top two rows on the eye chart with her left eye. The specialist set up surgery as soon as possible, the end of October. It takes about six months for maximum recovery of sight and that will be about half of what's been lost. He also told Mom that the surgery tends to trigger cataracts, in both eye, so she'll probably need cataract surgery in about 6 months (at least that doesn't involve actually cutting the eye).

The macular pucker makes things look wobbly or crocked (Mom's whole 6" Amsler grid is crazy, viewed at a distance of 2'). Mom's vision seems to change in jumps. She'll be doing OK and then wake up one morning and the floor looks like a roller coaster again. Usually, by the next day she is compensating and can get around OK and drive. After this last change it took three days for her to be able to drive again. Not that she does much, it is a strain. She's been using her cane and handicap tag again, not because of her back but because she has so much trouble judging where the floor is or if there is anything in her way. She started using the cane after she walked into the wall next to the door one day picking Nettie up from school. (BTW, Belk's in town has a VERY slick floor, not good if your cane doesn't have a rubber tip.)

We live out in the boonies so to get anywhere, one has to drive. Dad will take her places but he has things he has to do and he doesn't get as lonely as Mom. And he doesn't want to go to lunch with one of her girlfriends. Right now she's kind of trapped in the house. She can't read at all. She can't really watch TV, just listen, and the daytime programs she likes are all decorating type shows - not good listening. There are many TV shows she likes anymore, anyway.

So she calls me. And I don't know what to say and want to hang up, and run away, forever. And then feel bad, because I'm a bad daughter. And a bad person, because I feel sorry for myself despite being almost perfectly healthy.

24 September 2007

The Red Eye

Actually mostly green ones.

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Show off a recent picture that is chock full of red
eye. Because there's nothing more amusing than light reflecting off retinas,
making folks and animals look like demon spawn! Admit it, sometimes it just
gives you giggle. For the purposes of this photo shoot, other reflective eye
colors work too, so if you've got green or yellow glowing eyes (or some other
color), bring 'em on.
Here's Stubby, glowing in anticipation of supper.

Q-tip has one green and one blue eye. I don't know if this is why she always has one green and one red "red-eye" or not but she does. Here she is looking very devil-spawnish at having her picture taken.

Here's Honey getting fed from the table , with one bluish eye staring lovingly at Ellen. (Bad dog! Bad Ellen!) I'm not sure what she was just handed but it makes her look like she has no teeth and an orange mouth.

And Irish, in a unusually good night picture of her, eating supper be herself because the Queen does not share.

18 September 2007

Personally Obsolete

Monday Photo Shoot: Personally Obsolete
Take a picture of something in your house you used to use a lot, but now hardly use at all. This could be a piece of obsolete technology, or possibly some equipment for a hobby you no longer pursue, or just something you stopped fiddling with for no good reason at all -- the basic idea is simply to highlight something that no longer has that much use for you, for whatever reason.

My ice skates. I took three ice skating classes (alpha, beta, and, you guessed it, gamma levels) the year before we moved to Alabama. Now I live over an hour away from a skating rink. In the 14 years I've lived down here I've been skating maybe 1/2 dozen times. I keep them because I still dream of being an ice dance champion. I realize most girls give that dream up around age 10 but I've held on to mine past 30. I watch "Dancing with the Stars" and think, "I could do that," too. So much for reality.

17 September 2007

Happy Constitution Day!

In honor of the 220th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States of America:

And if you feel inspired to read the whole thing. It is here.

If you need a refresher on how a bill becomes a law, listen to it here.

13 September 2007

Dress Codes

Chad, over at Uncertain Principles, brought up dress code today. (He was pondering this weighty issue thanks to Steinn and Incoherent Ponderer.) Then he asked his readers about their academic dress code. Well, I'm not an academic but I play one on TV. Just kidding, I work for the state geological survey and the dress of myself and my coworkers varies at least as much as it does for the academics who surround us here on this lovely campus. We have people how wear fairly traditional office attire and people who never wear traditional office attire. Most of us are somewhere in between. And then there are field days.

Officially we are to present ourselves in a neat and professional manner. Actually the only place I can find where anything is actually specifically said about dress is that we are to be "professional and conservative" in appearance when traveling, because we represent both the agency and the State to the people we interact with.

At the office most people dress fairly casually. The State Geologist often wears jeans. The Deputy Director actually dress up more wearing slacks and shirts most days. In the past the Oil & Gas Board (our sister agency, housed in the same building as most of the GSA) employees had to dress up a bit for work because the attitude was that anyone including the Governor might stop by and they had to look "professional", that's relaxed some now that office dress codes have relaxed in general. My office is in the other building, so we almost never get walk-in visitors, making the need to impress the public with our professional nature pretty much non-existent.

Personally, I usually wear jeans but avoid t-shirts; wear sandals whenever possible (with socks in the winter) and kick them off under my desk most of the time; occasionally wear skirts; wear loafers some in the winter and the occasional pair of heels. When I'm presenting at a conference I dress more "professionally" in skirts and heels and such. When we are having a meeting here I will dress slightly better.

In the field I wear what ever will be practical; in the summer that usually means jeans of khakis with a tank top and long sleeved over-shirt (tucked in), pants tucked into my socks, bandanna or hat (depending on amount of shade), tennis shoes or boots depending on the location, and lots of bug spray; in winter it is basically the same out fit except I'm wearing a long sleeved t-shirt under a flannel shirt or wool sweater, plus or minus a jacket.

Something none of the guys touched on was hair. Guys don't have to worry about this as much. Mine hasn't been brushed since I combed it after my shower and probably won't be until I go to bed. I may finger comb it later and put it up. I don't blow dry my hair either, so it is often still wet when I get to the office - deal with it. I don't wear make-up to work because that is five minutes I would rather spend sleeping, besides then I'd have to worry about it all day.

I don't think people should wear lab coats unless they are actually in a lab and concerned about things spattering on them. Otherwise one just looks silly. One can be an uncausally dressed scientist without putting on a lab coat. Although I will not be joining their ranks anytime soon.

For the record, I am uncasually dressed today in a very cute outfit including heels. Although I will probably revert to my Birkenstocks before the day is out.


Some pictures of one of my hummingbirds. He guards one of the feeders rather jealously and then perches nearby, so I could get some good pictures. But I never managed to get one with the Sun on his throat.

12 September 2007


Your Monday Photo Shoot: Get Mugged

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Take a picture of one or more interesting coffee mugs you might have. Because it's my experience that people have coffee mugs with interesting stories behind them. At least, I do.

These are from my office.

The tall travel mug is for when I have to take my tea in the field; the short wide-bottomed travel mug was bought when I was describing core everyday because the lid kept the tea warm longer and the wide bottom fit over the dividers in the boxes making it more stable than other mugs (on the boxes or the rollers); the short mug was a Christmas gift from a pair of my students when I taught high school; the tall mug that says "Everyone's entitled to my opinion"was my birthday gift from my sister, Anna, this year. She had a number of gifts stashed in her closet. She also planned a joke present for our brother with Dad, because she wasn't going to be able to get it - tacky South of the Border stuff. (Is "tacky" redundant?)

These are at the house.

The blue one I bought a potter who lives in Andalusia, AL when I lived down there. It makes a wonderful ice cream cup! The other, as you can read, is from the Glasgow Festival of British Youth Orchestras of 1991. I participated in the festival because the youth symphony I was in had been to the Aberdeen International Youth Festival and was invited to play in Glasgow*, also. All together it was an awesome three weeks in Scotland - the castles, the gardens, the wandering through town, the Dee and the Don, the coast,...(there were rehearsals, too) I'd love to go back.

*I don't know why the venues for the Festival of British Youth Orchestras are both in Scotland(Edinburgh and Glasgow) and one's not England or Wales (you know, another part of Britain) or, even, Ulster (not on Great Britain but part of the UK). Okay, Belfast (or any city in Ulster) was, for sometime, probably not somewhere most British parents would particularly want to send their children but I'm sure there are some lovely cities in Wales.

07 September 2007

Because I want to be in the running for the iPod

...I will now claim my membership in the Order of the Science Scouts of Exemplary Repute and Above Average Physique. Among other things I am, along with my fellow OOTSSOERAAAPers:
- not opposed to alcohol.
- fond of IPCC reports (especially the pictures).
- mostly in agreement with the “truth.”
- into badges.
- grieving for the slow and miserable death of the Hubble Space Telescope.
- possibly possessed of supernatural powers.
- not in the business of total world domination
- committed to the constant and diligent presentation of science stories, be it to editors, producers, directors, educators, relatives and/or friends of various ilk, in an effort to lessen the gap that is this thing we call public scientific literacy.

I am the proud recipient of many badges. Amongst my favorites are:

Arts & Crafts

I can be a Prick When it Comes to Science

Works with Feces (oddly only obliquely related to why I also have the "what I do for science dictates my having to wash my hands before I use the toilet" badge)

So if you are into badges, are willing to fight the for public scientific literacy, and agree with the "truth", join up. It's easy to do.

The Power of Words

A little while ago I was chatting with Sarah.

me: It will be OK. It will all work out.
(does that help?)

Sarah: Yes it does.
Words have power. :D

me: They do.

I was asking because sometimes that's all I need to hear, a little assurance, and other times I want to say something like "No it won't. It never just works out. WTF are you talking about? Have you been listening?"

Her response got me thinking about the power of words. Both when spoken and unspoken. Specifically that words can be taken back. Funny how cruel words can't be taken back, at least not easily, but kind words can be yanked away without a moments pause.

One of my problems is just that -kind words that were wrenched away. My long-ago ex-fiancé used to tell me I was beautiful. And look at me like I was Aphrodite herself. When he said it was over that ceased to be true. I was only beautiful because he thought I was and he only thought I was because he loved me.

I know I gave his words that power. But I don't know how to take it back.


Activities that make me forget the rest of the world exists:
Swimming (not with family, often tied to hiking)
Watching a movie at the theatre
Watching a play
Dancing (sometimes)

Any suggestions on which of these I should do this weekend to avoid my mother?

More Cute Pictures!

I just submitted these to Stuff on My Mutt, but wanted my loyal readers to see them first.

Izzy discovered a week or so ago that she could use Honey as a step ladder to get up on chairs. She can jump up on the couch, but it usually takes a running start. I was sitting just out of view eating, so she was very interested in getting back up on me. (Instead of just interested in getting on me and running around and licking.) Ellen and I started trying to teach her not to get on the couch unless invited last night. Izzy must have spent 15 minutes sitting on Honey and putting her paws on the couch, only to have me push them off again.

My dog is soooo sweet. She just lay there looking somewhat aggrieved.

06 September 2007

Cute pictures

These are a few pictures I can't resist sharing. (Sorry no time to crop the pics.)

Q-tip resting on top of my car.

Honey looking hopeful. And Izzy, too.

Honey looking guilty, because she knows she isn't suppose to get table food.

Two shots of Honey being sweeter and more tolerant than I ever thought she would be.

She's is letting Izzy share her dinner! Honey doesn't really like other dogs and really didn't like Izzy when she first came. (I think, Honey thought Izzy was going to replace her. I have reassured Honey that she is my only dog. Izzy is Ellen's dog.) She even left some food in the bowl. I wonder if Honey thinks Izzy needs to eat more because she's so small?

We almost had a shot of those two for "stuff on my dog" this weekend but Ellen wasn't fast enough.

03 September 2007

The Truth Revealed!

My treachery is revealed I lied about #2. And John was wrong.

1. My siblings do range in age 9 in July to 54 in December.

2. There are actually 29 living members of my immediate family. I have 2 parents, 5 brothers, 1 sister, 5 sisters-in-law, 2 nieces, 4 nephews, 3 step-nieces, 6 step-nephews, and then there's me. We are 20 if you count LS, who while not biologically or legally related to me in any way is none the less my sister. And there are more of us if you count my oldest step-niece's husband and two nieces' fiancés. (It helps to have several blended families in our blended family.)

3. My brothers have been married a total of 12 times. That's five current sisters-in-law and seven ex-SILs!

Check out the other liars at By The Way.