Institute for the Promotion of Hideous Headless Research
Fort Johnson Campus, Charleston, South Carolina
At first, it was like any other HML seminar (except perhaps a bit better attended)...there were people with questions every few seconds, the token sleepyhead, the token airhead, others sitting back, taking it all in - there was even a pathetic cry for attention due to some unresolved 'mommy' issues....
There were annoying interruptions by headstrong members of the community (now, who is s/he really talking her/his head off to??)...and of course that stereotypic dopehead blatantly reading a silly romance novel titled 'Love in the Magnolia Garden Greenheaded Coneflowers'...
...and the usual finger-pointing by the omnipresent front row chuckleheads!!!
A heady Dr. Vesicles discussed several controversial trends in her data...sending shivers down the backs of the audience. raising the frightening question:
Will there ever be a headless recovery???
There were moments when Dr. Vesicles was riveting, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats...their hands clutched to their foreheads together...
...and moments when her words were met with outbursts of pure hardheaded disdain!
No one could ignore the ocassional be-heading, uuhh...choking,..the zombiesque lapses in appendage control...
And of course there is always a bonehead in the crowd, raising his long-ago-severed head just so he could see it...while another shows complete disrespect, with their hands behind their head former head and feet propped up on the table in front of them.
At one point, Dr. Vesicles stops discussing trends in her data, and briefly reviews the history of headlessness in the Headless Marine Laboratory, recalling the reluctant members in '06 (rarely venturing out of the lab), the growing bullheadness in '07 (as evidenced by the restlessness at the lab's door, while growing increasingly anxious to escape the lab's confines and spread the word), and finally their growing numbers, proudly documented in this '08 archived image.
But the end of the seminar looms, and the audience quickly grows eager (well, at least some of them do...) as they anticipate Dr. Vesicles always illuminating concluding remarks...
"You really can get a head in a headless laboratory
without while losing your own head!"
A Happiest of Halloweens from the Headless Among us!
Thankfully - the day finally arrived when my hair easily reached the 'ponytail' length necessary for the Locks of Loveorganization. I started growing my hair out right after my Mother's lung cancer diagnosis, in March of 2007, and it was on the short-side when I started to grow it out. I think that at one time, when I was quite a bit younger, that I had the patience for long hair - but now it just annoys me: it's miserably hot in the summer, the back knots up on long (or hell, even short) flights, and, well - it just bugs me. It's nice because I've never chemically treated my hair - and there's no gray - so it can go in the 'pile' of hair used for young children (who are more sensitive to the chemicals). I know how important it was for my Mom to have a nice wig when her hair started falling out - it was comforting to her, and made her feel better about going out in public. I've also had a good friend who has unexplained Alopeciaas an adult - and while she has grown comfortable with her bald head (which is stunnning, by the way), she's made me more aware of the condition in people of all ages.
I know that there is the ocassionally publicity about Locks of Love, and other similar organizations - publicity that suggests that they are mis-managed or that what happens to your hair often isn't what you hope it to be. But regardless of the annoyance, all I had to do was doing nothing for a few years - nothing to my hair that is - and even if there is only a small chance that my hair will end up helping someone, I still know that my Mom is out there smiling somewhere, saying 'thank god she finally cut that ratty mess'. Thinking about her saying that makes me smile too.
For that thought alone it was worth two years of bad hair days.
...well, for one, they're good for discovering things - important, no - awfully important things, like, for example, that some of the persimmon leaves have started changing to that beautiful, beautiful shade of red.
~silly star magnolia, what are you doing...blooming in October?~
I'm quite glad it's Friday.
I spent today doing stuff - trying to figure out what went wrong with a grant (one where funds, without our knowledge, were sent BACK to the granting agency...and yes, I know - that's the wrong direction!), trying to track down my father's physician to find out the results of his CT scan (no luck there), talking to someone at the Jefferson Area Board for the Aging (through their Care Advantage Plus folks) for someone who might come in and look after my father or perhaps live in an apartment (in the house) and just be around in case he needs someone, checking on manuscript edits, manuscript reviews, grants...yeah, stuff.
Then the lab met at Moe's for their every-other-week happy hour, where we discussed (once again) whether a zombie could be headless, whether the former senior graduate student and the eclair-baking postdoc would make good senators, and...you get the picture. It was Friday evening...what do you expect from us?
Aren't the aging flowers of the swamp sunflower (Helianthus augustifolius) delightful? I always think that they look as if they are dancing - moving first this way, and then that way - swaying with the sound of the wind.
Now...what is the lingering question of the day? Well, here it is:
Can a zombie be headless?
You see, my thought is yes. But in a conversation with the eclair-baking postdoc, he said definitively NO - because they eat brains blahblahblah.
You see, these are the kinds of in-depth discussions that scientists have while avoiding asking themselves questions that they need to answer (and perhaps at the moment don't know how to answer, so must find other equally significant questions to distract themselves with).
According to this piece, there is evidence that zombies can indeed be headless.
(Required background information: I was thinking today about what the focus of a headless scientist seminar would be - first, we know that headless scientists do not have the traditional brain. So - once a zombie eats a humans brain, is there ever a chance that the human then survives...in a headless form? And would it then be a...headless zombie? So would the seminar possibly be about the sequencing of the Headless Human...or Headless Zombie...genome? We already have the headless non-zombie scientists, for reference see 2006, 2007, and 2008.)
Camellia sasanqua 'Apple Blossom' - the new flowers start out with pink edges that fade as they age - it really is a pretty sasanqua. My garden now has four sasanquas - two of which are now blooming. Oh wait, it's five - I forgot about my tiny 'Fragrant Pink' that my favorite camellia grower gave me - it is still quite small and doesn't have any blooms.
In the recent Middle Georgia Camellia Society awards, 'Leslie Ann' won best sasanqua - just in case you're into that kinda thing. I'm not terribly in to that kind of thing (I say this, but then I did go and look, didn't I?).
The other day I told the eclair-baking postdoc that I needed a herding dog to herd the Pointer Sisters. Now, in some twisted way, that makes alot of sense, don't you think? I could train the herder, and then give up on the next-to-impossible task of training the pointers. Fortunately, as I type this, they are being well-behaved Airstream occupants. No one believes me when I tell them how peaceful my Airstream evenings are...but it is true.
Another sansaqua, Camellia sasanqua 'Cotton Candy'. I've shown images of this one before.
The suggestion was made yesterday that I should put two half slices of bread (to scale) on top of my Airstream for Halloween and call it a toaster. Hilarious, don't you think? However, like many good ideas - it's been done before. Dang.
I'm thoroughly enjoying my perennial morning glory covering part of my front fence - the flowers are such a beautiful blue in the early morning, before they start to fade to pink - they really are stunning. I'm beginning to experience their invasiveness however, as vines start creeping along the ground all around. Thus far, I've been able to keep it from taking over...thus far.
Since I'm trying hard to be fiscally responsible these days due to my current job(less) situation (aka dysfunctional situation) - I've had several fellow plant-obsessed friends and colleagues provide a 'fix' for me every now and then. Today a work colleague brought in a large bulb that is a lily of some kind, perhaps a crinum - all he told me was that it is summer blooming (I forgot to ask him the color). It will be my weekend 'planting fix'...
In addition to these kind passalongs, I'm still taking care of my 'propagatees'. Some of them are doing well, so well in fact that I might put them in the ground (instead of over-wintering them in a pot with some protection). All of this propagating has made me want a greenhouse - something I don't normally wish for...now this greenhouse might be a bit too large, but one of these might be just right. (Oh yeah, that whole dysfunctional job situation. It just gets in the way with my gardening plans, doesn't it?)
~shall we have a cup of hea my dea?~
I have fallen for the Cupheas.
There's the one above - which is, at present, the only one that I have in my garden.
But several of my propagatees are Cupheas, with delicious little orange and red blooms. The hummingbirds are gonna love 'em. I might even start a little bed just for Cupheas (but I doubt it - I think they'd be better mixed in with other things). One was on my 'wish list' two years ago - and then I read this post over at Gators in the Garden (where are you guys?) which was a glowing review of the Genus, and well - now there is one in my garden and others are setting their roots down (quite literally in fact).
Now, appropriate to the season, I'm lusting after Cuphea llavea - the 'Bat Face' Cuphea. Isn't it exquisite? It's listed as a zone 9-11, making me think that with a little protection, a little extra mulch, that perhaps I could make a go of it. I believe that Annie (over at The Transplantable Rose) has mentioned this Cuphea before...and shown images of it in her garden.
Hmmm. Perhaps I need to find one to propagate...
~the early red of the late orange mexican sunflower~
I let them reseed every year, gladly - because here we are, late October, and they make me happy (and more importantly, they make the butterflies even happier). I love the early red of 'Torch' - which mellows to a rich orange. And that soft green - the foliage is such a beautiful shade of green.
Well, the Microbial Lab is still on it's mission (first mentioned here, and more recently updated here) - and another manuscript got submitted a few nights ago.
work describing a coral pathogen and the role of motility (led by our collaborators from Israel): Published (read abstract here).
work describing metabolites produced by a coral pathogen (led by local collaborators): Published (read abstract here).
work describing genes involved in nutrient cycling in coral microbial communities: In press.
work describing the toxicity of Zn-containing nanoparticles to a much-loved bacterium: In review.
work describing the upper respiratory tract bacterial communities of bottlenose dolphins: Published.(read abstract here).
work describing the presence of a certain coral pathogen in the Caribbean: In review.
work describing the proteome of a certain coral pathogen at two different temperatures: In internal review.
work describing the genome of a certain coral pathogen: Draft.
work describing the relationship of specific genes in a certain coral pathogen: Accepted (with revisions).
working describing clinical isolates associated with the upper respiratory tract of bottlenose dolphins: Through internal review and in revision prior to submission.
Invited review on antibiotic resistance of a certain group of microorganisms...I'm working on it, okay? Don't you know that I'm busy as hell? What do you expect...huh? Geez, give me a break wouldya????
Oops. I snapped there. Yeah, time. I need more time (but then, who doesn't).
I will try to keep this one rooted throughout the winter, so that I have it for next season.
I came across a new South Carolina gardening blog today - SC Gardener. She kindly linked to me (and amazingly enough I noticed it - I'm not good with that stuff) - and so I went and took a look. Her post on the american beautyberry made me laugh - most of us are familiar with the purple one, but she mentioned a white one - and then linked to Compost in my Shoe, another SC gardener, who recently showed images of a 'blush' one...it makes me smile to know that plant greed is a 'problem' we all have!
Another SC garden blog that I just came across is Natural Gardening. Her garden looks beautiful (look along the right sidebar) - I'll look forward to taking a better look soon.
(All of this reminds me that I need to take some time this weekend to update/add/correct links on my site.)
~I love marigolds~
Maybe it's their fragrance. Maybe it's their reliability. Maybe it's their color, flower, interest in literature or perhaps even their calming influence...
I'm thinking I need some of the heirloom 'Harlequin' for next year. They're quite festive little flowers, aren't they?
~Rosa 'Golden Showers~
This is one of those roses that you often see at Lowe's, or a similar type of store, and that - if you ask me - doesn't get alot of respect. My garden has numerous heirloom roses, and I love them, but I've also grown fond of this happy rose. I'd defend it's presence in anyone's garden.
Well, I need to stop typing - and perhaps think about sleep. I'm looking forward to a weekend at home, a weekend to spend quite a bit of time in the garden (at least I hope). I want to continue cleaning out the vegetable beds, plant my new crinum-like bulb, plant some carrot and lettuce seeds - and finishing mowing. I want to think about bulbs (and what I might plant this fall myself) and move the Tibouchina urvilleana to a sunnier location. There's much to do, but that's always the case, isn't it?
~Haiku-the-three-legged and famed tamer-of-pointers~
Yes, the cat is finally in the Airstream.
I've had her in the crumbling house (aka the 'main house') for the past few months (she had the dogs with her during the day, but has been alone at night), since the dogs and I made the giant leap into Airstream living...it's hard to believe that it was two and a half months ago now. Last night when I got back into Charleston, I grabbed her and brought her to the Airstream - it was cold out and I'm sure she had been lonely while I was gone. Today I retrieved the Pointer Sisters from prison (aka the kennel) and after they ran and ran and ran and ran (you get the picture) they are in the Airstream, happy to have their cat back with them. It's funny - the one house rule is YOU CANNOT HARASS THE CAT - and they come *this* close to harassing her when they can, but as of yet, haven't crossed the line. Plus, this is one unfazed three-legged cat: she isn't going to let any crazy dogs wreck her day. No way.
~a barn off Amicus Road in Greene County, Virginia~
I'm back in Charleston - to a predicted low tonight of 38 degrees. That is pure craziness if you ask me - it's just mid-October! Fortunately the Airstream is warm. I've got three options for heat: there is a propane heating system (at least I think it's propane, I haven't dealt with it yet), and then the rooftop Carrier AC unit (the standard Air V model here) that includes a heat pump - but what's keeping me warm right now is an electric 'Vornado' (this one, to be precise) that works like a charm. I won't keep it on when I sleep (I'll probably rely on the Carrier unit at night) - but for now, it's just about perfect.
While in Virginia, on Saturday afternoon when my father took a nap, I went for a drive. It wasn't peak color - but it was still beautiful for this coastal South Carolinian. I decided to take a new route - and I ended up in Amicus (in Greene County, Virginia) and from Amicus Road I found a new (new to me that is) 'mountain', Bingham Mountain, by following Bingham Mountain Road until it intersected Simmons Gap (which was a road familiar to me). It was a wonderful road, only partially paved in places - and there were some wonderful old farms on both side of the roads. At one point there was a narrow, one-lane bridge that went over a small creek - I wanted to stop and photograph it, but unfortunately there was an anxious farmer behind me, someone annoyed already at finding me in front of him, driving slowly (akin to the leafpeepers...). I finally was able to pull over and let him pass me, and then didn't see another car on the road until I arrived back at my Dad's home.
~another view along Amicus Road~
It was a colorless sky afternoon - low, harmless clouds were moving through, covering the faded peaks of far off mountains. The most beautiful part of the landscape were the abandoned fields - gold to burnt orange grasses, the deep red of the sumac, touches of greens - colors of the autumn palette.
~again, off Amicus Road~ ~~~~~
It was nice to experience a touch of Autumn. It was also nice to visit my father - to leave him with a freezer full of brocolli-chicken casserole (divided into individual servings), a clean refrigerator, and memories of another successful spaghetti dinner. We also talked about many difficult subjects, and I think we both handled it well - and approached it with a bit of humor and realism and hopefully, yes hopefully, my father knows that the conversations were only because so many of us care about him. As I got ready to leave this morning, he made sure I had a few bananas and some grapes and pumpkin bread (a gift from a neighbor) packed for the drive - just as my mother would have done. My father is an awfully sweet man.
Isn't it interesting...how biology repeats iself? This growth on the oak forest floor of my father's place could be placed carefully in a spot in the great barrier reef - looking like it belonged. No wonder that Linnaeus got it wrong when he classified corals as plants! Easy mistake...don't you think?
My father and I had dinner tonight at a neighbors, and heard rather terrible stories about how many of the neighbor's small dogs had been attacked (and taken away) by coyotes. There was a bear or two story tossed in as well (for emphasis) -- it made me think that perhaps my snakes weren't so bad after all (plus, I could see the Pointer Sisters taking a look at a pack of coyotes and joining up - much like how a mischievious person might take off with the circus).
I took a drive today, up further in the mountains, and came across a dirt road that I had never traveled down before - Bingham Mountain Rd. It wasn't really what one would call a mountain - but it was beautiful and the sumac was a deep red and the grasses were golden and there was a chill in the air and clouds gathering on the next mountain. The deep reds of the native dogwoods were apparent, as were some of the yellow-golds - hints of color everywhere but definitely not peak color. By the time I visit next time, the leaves will be gone from the trees and the mountains will look cold - but today, on a road that fortunately ended up somewhere that I was familiar with - the warm colors of autumn were everywhere - cutting the chill, warming the heart, welcoming vistas for this journey that each of us are on. Tonight, after a few casseroles cool (for freezing in the morning for my father), I once again head south on I-95 - feeling a tad inadequate, sad to leave my father alone, knowing that my own journey is a bit of a mystery right now. But the mountains were nice, even a new mountain - and I'll remember them when I reach the salt air of my own garden, filled with a palm tree and gingers and elephant ears and not a coyote to be found.
Will someone tell me what this seedpod is? I used to know it, and tonight I can't remember it and every google search I've tried has come up wrong. You know it - it's got those large white flowers - looks alot like Datura but is a prolific annual reseeder...well, it's seedpods are hanging out in the front garden of my Dad's home - and they're definitely fun, aren't they? I'm taking some back to Charleston with me - I'm a fan of anything that unlawfully reseeds with abandon.
I'm home from the spaghetti dinner - it was a success, and except for the spoonful of sauce that I splattered all over myself, my time in the kitchen went well. My job was to put sauce on the pasta - the same job that I had last year - and so you could consider me a trained sauce server (hey, it's good to have options, right?). With the average age in the kitchen just under 80 years of age, I think I also brought some youthful exuberance to the event - seriously, it's funny. These are all people I grew up in church with - and it was nice to catch up with everyone in between spooning out sauce.
The funniest thing I overheard during the evening was when my Dad's younger brother said that if a bomb attacked Albemarle County, Virginia, that he'd head over to my Dad's basement - because there was enough homemade canned spaghetti sauce in there to outlast any type of radiation. (He's probably right).
As for my Dad, he is now signed up for Lifeline - an accomplishment for sure. I turned it into a bit of a joke, and told him that he wouldn't be able to press the button when he wanted someone to bring him some iced tea - and so it became something humorous instead of something that made him feel old and helpless. We also talked about depression, loneliness, eating vegetables, not watching TV all of the time - and how he deserved to enjoy his life. We broached the subject of a 'roommate' - and we talked about the pros and cons and he handled it well. Even the 'assisted living' scenario was raised - and what calmed him down most of all was when I told him that brother and I wouldn't think of talking him into selling his home - he had promised my Mom that we would always have a place to come home to (and he's a man that keeps his promises). All-in-all, there was progress made.
Tonight the temperatures are predicted to drop into the mid-30s, so after we returned I went outside with a flashlight into the garden and harvested tomatoes and green peppers until my bucket was full. It felt familiar, that last harvest, and there is a decent chance that Dad's vegetable garden will look much different tomorrow morning. I even heard the words 'snow' and 'freezing rain' on the weather report - words I'm not used to hearing anymore.
Tomorrow I need to drive up further in the mountains too. Just for a bit. I think the mountains would do me good.