Thursday, November 15, 2012

Party Boys

It's been a nonstop November o'Fun for the Boys at the Zoo--first weekend, a Sammy rescue party; second weekend, a golden retriever rescue party third weekend, a dog show, and today, Mr. Big's birthday. Take a look:

"I spy...lots of other fluffy white dogs!"

"I'm joining the dogs in the tent--they know how to party."

"Whatcha got there, bub?"

"Hey, don't pet him! You know he's not a Samoyed, right?"

Pooped pups.
No photos from the golden party, but a 43-second video. No shots of either of the 2 Sammies that were there.

Happy Barkday, my sweet boy! He's 13 years young today; and I mean young. This is the dog who started getting younger after he finally became comfortable in his new home lo these many years ago. The eyes have softened, the gait is slower and stiffer, and he has trouble on slippery surfaces, but the heart is still there, strong and brave and true.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Geranium vine (Pink Blizzard) and catmint in my hanging planter.

Polka dot plants in my front tubs.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

DoodleBug's First Charity Walk

DoodleBug completed his first charity walk today, for the local AIDS Foundation. He had a great time! It was just a short walk (4 K, or 2.4 miles), but had been selected by the daughter of a friend as a charitable walk she wanted to do. And, as this is one of the few that allows dogs to participate, when they asked me to walk with them, naturally, I agreed. Doodle was in his element, working the crowd, flirting with the women, charming the men, making the kids giggle. We ran into two other golden retrievers adopted from his rescue group, one of whom we'd met at a local meet and greet, and the other who was adopted at the same time as Doodle. I could have gotten her dog and she could have gotten mine. Might I say here that hers was much calmer than my maniac.

Anyway, it was hard to get photos, as I was on the other end of the leash, but here's a photo taken before the race. Doodle is leaning into one of his most favorite people in the world, my friend J. He and I often go on 3 or 6 mile walks with J, so when he sees her, he immediately assumes he's in for a fun, long walk and we have to start NOW. Forget this waiting nonsense. Let's walk!

Late this afternoon, after a Pet Partners meeting, I ran into my friend A in, of all places, the yarn aisle in JoAnn's, and she wants to go on one of these walks with me. I'm going to scout out one where we can take dogs, as she has two: a senior lab and a young Pomeranian. Can you imagine the ginger cuteness of DoodleBug and a Pom walking together? I'm not sure I can stand that much cuteness.

Friday, October 12, 2012

I Went to California...

...and met some donkeys (that's burros to you) on the road. The little brown guy heard me telling Greg to give him my apples (which Greg didn't, I might add). I think he's giving Greg the stink-eye.

The Colorado River looked so inviting. I miss water.

Now, you know I cannot resist those little historical markers on the side of the road. I have to check them out. You never know where they will lead, what forgotten gem or incident or person they memorialize. Luckily, neither can Greg, so we slammed on the brakes and went back to see what one we'd passed commemorated. It was a sign for the Blythe Intaglios, prehistoric human and animal figures that were made by removing the desert pavement (varnished pebbles that sit atop the desert surface). Here's just one of them (these are not the easiest things to photograph from the ground surface, so follow the link to see much better photos).

Then, as Greg had never been to Palm Canyon or the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, we stopped there for a brief hike. The road up to the canyon (and our Rav in there for scale). The mountains in the  background are 30 miles away.

The famous palms (these are a remnant native palm colony).

The view from the top of the trail.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pretty Eggs, All in a Row

A gift of cage free, organic, free range eggs from the field school. There was another large brown egg and one more green egg, but the boys had them for breakfast. Aren't they lovely? I hope you can see all the different shades of light green. Their yolks are a vivid orange. They are delicious, with a more egg-intense taste.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Spiders on Mars?

Robert Krulwich is one of my favorite science reporters, and he has a fascinating new article on some strange "black spiders" that have been identified on Mars. Check his article out for some totally cool images and an interesting discussion of how Mars' surface may be much more active than we think.

Krulwich's Martian 'spiders'--just in time for Halloween!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

River Walk Shawl

I made this for my friend T, for a shawl swap, and at the risk of sounding like I'm bragging, well, I'm going to brag. I love this! I am so stinking, ridiculously proud of how it turned out. I think it's the prettiest thing I have ever made. It's the River Walk Shawl published in Interweave Crochet last year. The stole measures 66 inches by 18 inches, and is made from just over two skeins of Cascade Heritage Silk in this gorgeous charcoal gray. What a wonderful yarn to work with--smooth, silky, yet springy from the wool, never split, no knots. The yarn shop where I bought had a knitted sweater sample hanging in the same Heritage Silk, but red. Yes, gorgeous. So please indulge my bad taste in bragging.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Reading About Walking

I know, most ordinary people think reading a book about walking is boring. Or should I write: Boring! If you've not noticed over at BookTeaCatDog, I've read a few books about walking, both historical and philosophical. I'm not sure why. I enjoy them, almost as much as I enjoy walking. Strange but true. And now, I can add a new genre--I am reading fiction about walking. And it is fantastic!

I am completely absorbed in and enthralled by The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, and it is as wonderful as reviews--and its nomination for a Man Booker Prize--have said. She manages to convey how walking helps one refocus, deal with the past you'd rather not remember, hope for the future (well, I haven't gotten to the hope and future part, but I sure hope it's coming), see life, real life, not TV life or life as you think it is, but real life. Beautifully written, so sensitively drawn, with such compassion for characters living such quiet and surprisingly desperate and unhappy lives--and yet, it is not depressing at all.

I think Harold will be re-awakened by his walk. I hope Maureen is. I hope Queenie is waiting. My friend S is listening to the Audibles version at the same time, but we haven't compared notes yet. I hope she loves it as much as I do.

I wish I didn't have to work, but could just sit and read. How do I get a job just sitting and reading?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Space Geek in Us All

Nothng makes this Nerdy Scientist happier than seeing other people excited by science. And today, here in the Old Pueblo, science made a surprise and exciting visit. Former astronaut Mark Kelly asked NASA to fly the space shuttle Endeavour over Tucson on its way to California from Houston. He was the Endeavour's last commander, and in his and Gabby Giffords' honor, they agreed. The shuttle flew over at 11:15 a.m.

At 11:05, S and I went across the street to the little park, joined minutes later by our office mates. Others trickled out into the parking lot as the time drew near. Where was it, everyone kept asking, till yours truly, the Nerdy Scientist herself, spotted it and yelled "There is is!" Of course, we are all Nerdy Scientists in this building, or civilians who work with nerdy scientists, so we were bound to be excited.

But here are some links to local coverage, including a video made over the University mall. Yes, I am nerdy enough to think this was super cool. My sister got to see Enterprise flying into NYC as her office building is right on the river (great photos, sis!). My photos are not nearly as good, so enjoy these instead. I was more concerned with watching it with my naked eyes to remember it than seeing it through a lens.

Local coverage.
Link on right to UA Mall video.

My photo, taken from the park across from the office.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

DoodleBug's First Race

DoodleBug just signed up to do his first official race, the Aids Walk next month. It's only 4K, which will be a breeze for us both, but it's the only charity race/walk I know of that allows dogs (although unofficially, there were some at the Climb to Conquer Cancer Walk I did this spring). And he was the first dog to sign up. He'll get a bandana, not a bib, so I don't think it will have a number on it, especially since it's not a timed race. Hopefully, I'll be able to find more events like these he can do. Should I make him his own fundraising page?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"She Told Me Not to Bother Greg..."--A DoodleBug Flip Book

"Don't go in there." "I won't."

"See? I'm not going in."

"Don't blink." GingerBoy is also a Dr. Who fan. If you don't get the reference, well, too bad. It would take too long to explain it.

"Hi there, can I help you with that lunch?"

Greg starting petting him immediately, and sneaking him bits of his wife's delicious corn bread.
This is what happens on Take Your Golden to Work Day.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Why Science is Fun

Sixty years after Rosalind Franklin, and Watson and Crick, we just realized how little we know about human DNA.  Fascinating, overwhelming, inspiring, fun--our DNA "hairball."

"Bits of Mystery DNA, Far From Junk, Play Crucial Role"

This is going to change everything.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Running with Fido

Two years ago, when I was training for the half-marathon, I started jogging or running intervals: first just between lamp posts, then I worked up to whole blocks. One block walking fast, one block running, one block walking fast, one block running. I should have started this by telling you I hate running. Hate it. Love walking. Just love it, love it, love it. Then why did I do this, start running? Because I knew it would be good for me. Good for my marathon training. Yes, I can make myself do things I don't care for in the name of "good for me." It's a sickness, really.

But, as much as I hated doing it, I really think it helped me prepare for the half-marathon and get me in better shape. But another but...then my dog got sick and died, then my other dog got sick, and just after I got him healthy, then my cat got sick, and a year and a half had gone by before I knew it with no interval walks.

I started my old exercise routine again May 1, the day after Lalecka died. I'd kept up with the regular walks, even some long race-training walks on the weekends with The Awesome J, my friend who does 3-day cancer walks, but no running.

Then last month I started the interval running again on my Tuesday/Thursday walks (direct fallout from the "Oh my goodness!!!" reaction to seeing my naked body in a full-length mirror in a dressing room. I don't have such a thing in my house, and now I know why. In some sense, it's my own fault for not having bought any new clothes since the year 2000. I might have been better prepared for the shock had I slowly watched my body fall from late 30s firmness to late 40s flabbiness.). Tall Ginger Boy gets taken out for another mile-long walk those two days so that he can walk faster without Mr. Big strolling along. Don't worry, Mr. Big has walked the first mile and gets to relax and cool off at home while Doodle Bug and I go out again. I started this last year when I got Doodle, thinking it was a good way for us to practice loose-leash walking and bond. He loved it.

I thought for sure I'd be gasping and shin splinting before the first lamp post hove into view. But no, I sprinted straight past the post to the end of the block, no extra effort needed. What?!? Could this be muscle memory from a year ago? Maybe. Or maybe the stars were aligned. Who knows? But not a single gasp, not a single shin splint in sight.

Best of all? Doodle Bug loves it! The first block he wanted to take off, and I had to hold him back. The second block, he changed his pace up and down, trying to sync with me. The third block, we were in perfect striding harmony. We ran three blocks (or three-tenths of a mile) that first day, and now are up to running 7 blocks (or seven-tenths of a mile). And you know what? I can't believe I'm going to write this "out loud," but I'm loving it.

Maybe because he loves it so much, his enthusiasm is infectious. Maybe it's the fact running creates a breeze to mitigate the dang 85 degree heat at 6:30 a.m. Maybe it's because I was in better shape than the scale and my clothes and that evil, full-length, dressing room mirror told me I was. Who knows?

But starting September 3, I'm switching my exercise routine from M, W, F--walk the dogs and weights, T/Th--walk the dogs + second walk/run to M, W, F--walk the dogs +second walk/run, T/TH--walk the dogs and weights.

Who woulda' thunk it?

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Scourge of Spurge

It's been a while since I last posted because I've been battling the above--spurge. You see, two years ago, we had a nasty winter storm that hit the Old Town with three days of bone-chilling, well-below-freezing temperatures. Desert plants can survive a few hours of this, maybe even one really cold night, but not three days of nonstop frigid air. So that spring, a lot of plants and trees died. Even a year later, last summer, the local verdure hadn't come back. It was sad, seeing the wilting cacti and dying trees all over town.

I was amazed, nay, stunned, that the freeze managed to kill my Bermuda grass. Bermuda grass is known for its indestructibility. It can survive droughts, it can survive floods. Apparently it cannot survive several days of freezing temperatures, so last summer, my backyard grass was pretty thin; it never came in with its usual lushness and growing-so-fast-I-need-to-mow-twice-a-week-ness. Read, large expanses of dirt, just dirt. Dirt that was tracked in the house by two very large and furry dogs. I hate that.

So this spring, I got out my thatcher, scored the ground, laid grass seed, even spread fertilizer. While manure works great, a certain big white fuzzy dog (BWFD) likes to eat it. Uumm, yummy! BWFD does not care that manure gives him dairrhea. It tastes good! Big-haired human (BHH), however, does care.

Well, after all that careful gardening, the whole southeastern portion of my backyard remained a dirt oasis. I watered it. I spread more seed. Then, a little sprout, and another. My grass was back! I was happy. I encouraged it. I nurtured it. I sent it good growing vibes.  

Then Old Town received over two inches of rain last week. Great for the aquifer, not so much for my lawn. Because instead of lush Bermuda grass so thick you could sink your happy toes in it, I got spurge. Nasty, dense, instantly spreading overnight spurge. The spurge that takes over the world. It forms a thick mat that is impossible to mow, because it's so low, so you have to hand pick it out. By hand. See that valiant little Bermuda grass spike trying to fight its way through the cloying spurge in the second photo? Grow, little grass, grow! 

I hate spurge.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Deva 'Do, Or, The Bride of Frankenstein

I got my hair cut on Wednesday at a salon where a Deva-Inspired stylist works. Deva cuts are a technique for cutting curly hair that involves cutting the hair dry, and cutting individual curls. A daunting task with my hair, which is very thick. At 50 minutes into my cut, the stylist said "I can see why you keep it short--styling this long would take a lot of time every morning." And every Gentle Reader knows I am lazy and would prefer to walk my dogs and eat a hearty breakfast in the morning than take an hour to do my hair.

Now, my normal stylist George is very good with curls, and this spring we'd gone back to an inverted bob, which is a curl-friendly style that I'd had 2 years ago. This stylist didn't like the bob at all, reshaped my hair, and after a frightening 50 minutes during which I bore a close resemblance to the Bride of Frankenstein (complete with white streak), gave me this. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. Luckily, my hair grows really fast and, as my friend J's friend's husband, a stylist, says "The difference between a bad cut and a good one is two weeks." One of my coworkers said she hadn't noticed I'd cut my hair at all, although it did look shorter and curlier. I guess all curls look alike.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cables Meet Blue Yarn

I mastered something this summer. Well, almost mastered. My sister gave me a knitting book last year, and I decided that in 2012 I would master either cables or color work. I had only made two cabled items: the first, a knit square for Warm Up America to learn how to cable in the first place; and the second, a scarf for my brother-in-law. Neither was a challenge. I had two skeins of Caron One Pound in azure that I had earmarked for a larger boys' Project Linus blanket stashed away.

And so cable met blue yarn and the following was born:

Yes, there area few mistakes in it, but I love it. I think it came out great. It's 54 inches by 48 inches so the perfect size for a pre-teen, slightly heavy so it'll be warm, interesting texture-wise but not girly. I definitely plan on making another one. But I need a break form cables for a while as I worked on this on and off for three months.

No, now I face my Ravellenics Game challenge on Ravelry, for which I will make myself a sweater during the 2012 Olympic Games. Now I just have to decide what Englishy-type food to eat during the opening ceremonies when I start my challenge: tea and scones? Fish and chips? American Cadbury chocolate that I pretend is the superior English Cadbury chocolate? Pimms?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dessert Under False Pretenses, Or, the Harbingers of Humiliation

We have a little tradition at work amongst several women in different labs. We celebrate birthdays by going out to lunch and treating the birthday girl, who gets to pick the restaurant (we have an amazing number and variety of restaurants within a mile or so of the office, yet another perk to this great job). We've been doing it for years. It used to involve a backpack of birthday stuff that the birthday girl got to keep in her cubicle to play with until the next birthday, at which point she added a new toy to the backpack and passed it on (yup, you know that whole thing was my idea). One year I was given spray-on tattoos--super fun. I was always happy to wear the birthday girl sash and tiara, although some limited themselves to the hot pink feather boa for the duration of the lunch and that was it. Eventually the number of toys in the backpack became too numerous and the backpack became too heavy (and we were getting older, too, and lazy), so that part of the ritual was discarded but the eat, drink, and be merry portion remains.

My birthday was a while ago, but between vacations, field projects, and other things, my lunch was put on hold indefinitely. Until today, when it became definite. Naturally, I chose Mexican. Naturally, someone wished me a  happy birthday as we were seated. Naturally, Jesus the waiter heard that, so naturally, a dessert and singing waiters appeared half an hour later. Dios mio!  It was an unspoken rule we never told anyone it was a birthday celebration so as not to embarrass the birthday girl with this kind of kind exhibition. Dessert was tapioca pudding (which I like) with chunks of pineapple and whipped cream. I was nice and shared it with those Harbingers of Humiliation even if they didn't deserve it.

But I feel guilty, having been given an undeserved dessert, when my birthday was weeks ago. Sneaking sweets under false pretenses.

Jesus said "Happy 21st birthday!" I said, "Oh, er, thank you, yes, er, 21 in dog years."

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

In Honor of the Higgs Boson, and Ourselves

Happy belated birthday, Higgs boson, and welcome to the science world. Your discovery will just lead to one thousand new questions--ah, the joy of science. In your honor, a sequence to show the beauty you allow to exist.

My Rosa Perfume Delight:



And happy Independence Day, USA! And thank you to my great, great, great, great grandfather Jan van Orden and his brothers, who fought in the Revolutionary War, poor farmers who put their own 'lives, fortunes, and sacred honor' on the line.