I doubt that Annabelle Lee has a list of any kind, unless it's a mental list of snakes that she hopes to wrangle in her lifetime. I can see her 'bucket list' now: (1) catch black racer snake that has thus far proved elusive, (2) if black racer snake is caught, obtain the courage to kill it (and not just bark and jump around, which will entice Handsome Stanley to saunter over and kill the snake without all of the silly Pointer Sister drama), and (3) parade the black racer snake around the garden, and show it off in front of THE DAN.
I'm thinking that's a pretty nice bucket list for a Pointer Sister.
My list is a little different. And even amidst the craziness of the past year, we've been slowing slogging through it, sometimes modifying it as we go, adding another paper as new data presents itself - a team effort for a lab that has had a challenging year. We're smaller in number now (the eclair-baking postdoc has accepted a position at non-profit in Maryland) but we're no less determined - our numbers will soon dwindle even more, with both of my doctoral students slated to defend their dissertations in December. But new students will appear, new scientists will wander into the Microbial Lab and decide to stay. The ebb and flow of the lab, something that I still haven't fully gotten used to, but recognize as the natural ryhthm of an academic life.
I haven't been spending much time here. At the end of the day, when I often want to write, I simply haven't felt like doing so. I suppose it's the ebb and flow of blog life, or perhaps it can be explained better by inertia brought on by a long, hot summer and a difficult year and a Nikon that is shedding it's last images. Work has been a constant though, as has the garden - and through it all, some positive things are beginning to happen, and I'm slowly, but surely, washing myself of the dysfunctional situation that I was in. A new wind is beginning to blow.
The List first emerged in August of 2009, just a few days after my termination from my job of 15 years - and more recently here, in April of 2010. It's a nice list, considering the circumstances, and I'm proud of what my lab has accomplished (more or less since June of 2009). The truth is that everyone has been working their asses off. Posting The List helps to keep me focused, helps me to prioritize what I need to work on next. There is still much to be done, much to write, edit, proofread and celebrate.
work describing a coral pathogen and the role of motility (led by our collaborators in Israel): Published.
work describing metabolites produced by a coral pathogen (led by local collaborators): Published.
work describing genes involved in nutrient cycling in coral microbial communities: Published (and take a look at the journal cover photo).
work describing the bacterial communities in the upper respiratory tract of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins: Published.
work describing the phylogeny of a globally-distributed coral pathogen (collaborative with colleagues from Australia): Published.
work validating the presence of a coral pathogen in the Caribbean and the pathogen's antimicrobial characteristics: Published.
work describing a method to detect and quantify a coral pathogen in environmental samples: Published.
work describing culturable bacteria and fungi in gastric, upper respiratory tract and fecal samples of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins: In Press.
work describing the genome and proteome of a coral pathogen, with a specific focus on temperature-dependent virulence: In Preparation.
work describing the genome (full description) of a coral pathogen at two different temperatures: In Preparation.
work describing the proteome (full description) of a coral pathogen at two different temperatures: In Preparation.
work describing the antimicrobial resistance and susceptibility profiles of coral-associated bacteria: In Preparation.
work describing the anti-microbial activity/properties of coral-associated bacteria: In Preparation.
a review focused on the urgent need for coral diagnostic approaches: In Preparation.
work describing the effect of pH on membrane vesicle production and composition in a Gram negative bacterium: In Preparation.
manuscripts 9-15 are all close to submission - in addition to these 7 manuscripts, we have ~10 additional manuscripts where the data is collected, some writing has been done, but they are not yet close to submission.
I often get asked 'how can you live in such a small space with three dogs' - to which I add 'there's also a cat, or at least most of a cat, since Haiku is missing on her back leg and her tail.'
Well, as crazy as it can be at times, it isn't that crazy - there is alot of musical chairs-style moving around, but it's all done rather calmly. They all play well together, and respect each others space (as they should).
So here's some rare footage of my Airstream life...(okay, so it's not all that rare - I was just trying to add some drama to my little world). All within the course of a few hours.
So, what probably won't come as a big surprise to most of you, I'm not a fan of dog racing.
You see, a longtime family friend who has a lawn service built a dog pen for me at my Dad's home in Virginia. This guy, we'll call him Fred (because that is his real name), has a lawn service and since the grass isn't growing anywhere this summer, we asked if he might have time to do this. He said yes.
I have to make him apple turnovers (guess I'd better do that tomorrow) for his efforts. (We also paid him).
We gave Fred quite a bit of artistic freedom.
We did not just get a dog pen.
We got what can only be referred to as 'The Earlysville Raceway'.
My Dad now has a dog racetrack in his side yard.
~the viviacious Annabelle Lee, snorting around for truffles in between races~
The Raceway comes off the back door of my Dad's first floor - and veers sharply to the right and crosses an area of lawn (you can see this in the first image).
Once through the narrow straight stretch (which looks ironically like your typical dog run), the 'pen' opens up into a 300 ft oval. There are oaks in the center of the oval which is nice because there is plenty of shade and plenty of places for the dogs to hunt for truffles in between races. However, Fred cleared an area about 2-3 ft inside the 6 ft fencing - hence creating the raceway.
~THE DAN, pondering whether she could clear the 6 ft to find better truffle hunting areas~
Now, I will just say that it has been nice have the Pointer Sisters, Handsome Stan, and Queen Haiku here with me. I will also say it has been nice knowing that I'm not shelling out $30 per dog per night to board them.
However, I had no idea that dog racing could be so fun...and hopefully in the future, lucrative.
~The Pointer Sisters, both contemplating whether they could clear the 6 ft fence and head to the Sip 'N Dip for an ice cream cone~
As for lucrative, no - I'm not pimping out my crazy-fast dogs.
But I did tell some relatives that the next time I'm in town, that they should come over and bring their lawn chairs and a tin can of quarters and even a cooler filled with beer and that we could sit outside of the Raceway and place random dog bets.
Like, I bet THE DAN gets to the top of the oval Raceway before Stan does.
Or, I bet Stan barks before the Pointer Sisters.
Or, within a sixty minute period, I bet Annabelle Lee goes around the Raceway more times than THE DAN or Handsome Stan.
We're talking high stakes betting. Big bucks. And who knows, perhaps by next summer, we'll start charging admission. Maybe I'll even start making apple turnovers for visitors.
~Handsome Stan, pondering why that, just because The Pointer Sisters are crazy-wild and would run to the next county in search of truffles if loose, why he has to suffer and hang out in the Earlysville Raceway at all...~
And yep, I'm going stir crazy.
Tomorrow is my last day.
God bless folks who care for the elderly and for those with cognitive impairment. I've been told that it is worse when it is your own parent, and I hope that is true. With your own parent, you know what the changes are, and you fight them, and want them to remember what you know they have known in the past. It's hard. I'm pretty much done for.
The Pointer Sisters do have their quiet, reflective moments. Yes - they're few and far between, but on a humid afternoon, with off-an-on rain showers, The Dan spent a few moments contemplating her life's purpose: squirrels. it's all about the squirrels.
I've been busy. Doing things. I've finally gotten around to transplanting all of last fall's propagatees into the garden, and I'm slowly transplanting daylilies and salvias from the now-shady areas to places in the garden with more sun. I'm harvesting blueberries and cubanelles and the asian pears are ready, although they're tiny, and I'm fighting Annabelle Lee over them - she jumps up on the tree until one or two falls down, and then she runs around the garden with them for a bit before settling down and eating them up. Yes - Annabelle is my garden's primary consumer. Still putting the finishing touches on a small grant, have a revision of a manuscript to finish up - and I have two graduate student manuscripts to read through. Last week was such a bust, with my crashed computer - so I'm planning on a better week. I want to plant seeds - of zinnias and sunflowers and other annuals that will bring color to the August garden - and of green beans, that won't mind the heat. I want to weed. And prune. I'd also like to get my act together - but I'm not sure that this is something one does when they're unemployed, working like crazy, and living in an Airstream. Perhaps having one's act together is over-rated anyway.
Sweet bell peppers, cubanelles, a tomato, and more red potatoes - all, except for the tomato, are roasting in my oven as I type this. A little olive oil, a little lemon - some garlic. All good.
The heat has been a bit overwhelming for the past few days - it's August heat, even bad August heat - not mid-June weather. The quick, pop-up showers have all missed my little piece of land, and I've been trying to water so me in the evening, slowly making my way around the acre, stopping at plants that are more sensitive to the dryness. It helps - but for the most part everything has stopped dead in it's track - no growth, no new flowers forming - instead, everything is just holding on, hoping for a break in the weather.
It's been a trying few days - on Friday evening I was downloading Windows updates, and on Saturday morning my computer wouldn't boot. Fortunately at the lab there is a great IT group, and they've been troubleshooting the problem for me -- only to find no answer so far. At first we thought it was a hard drive gone bad, but the diagnostics didn't validate this hypothesis.(Thankfully, everything was saved on my hard drive - except for several programs, including - bummer - photoshop). Tomorrow we'll test the system with another hard drive (that we know works) to see if it wasn't about the hard drive after all.
So I'm in the middle of a proposal - and then my computer crashed. Ugh. I did get a loaner from work - and that is helping - but it's not a comfortable keyboard and of course I don't have all of my files. I'm making do.
This morning, early, as I was working on the proposal - Annabelle Lee vomited. I didn't think about it when she did it once (although she isn't a dog who regularly vomits at all) - but by the sixth time (along with her inability to keep water or even a small piece of food down) I began to worry.
So I took her to the vet - and the good news is that it doesn't seem like something obstructing her digestive tract - and our 'working hypothesis' is that she ate something toxic, most likely a skink - or something similar. So she's had a shot of anti-nauseous meds, can't eat anything again until tomorrow (and then only a bit of ID at a time) and was given some subcutaneous fluids (I was worried about her dehydrating since she couldn't keep water down).
She seems good this evening - she's asleep but isn't lethargic and doesn't seem uncomfortable at all.
~The Pointer Sisters, home from the Paw Plaza Hotel~
When I picked up the dogs from the kennel on Tuesday morning, they were - as always - happy to be back home. Happy to run on familiar paths through familiar flower beds, happy to even be back in the Airstream. The much-loved Vornado is long gone - and the Carrier air-conditioner, on the top of the Airstream, now hums along, keeping us cool. I don't mind the noise that the AC unit makes, it has become white noise, especially at night, and drowns out all of the sounds that might otherwise get the attention of the dogs - that is definitely a plus. Right now Annabelle is curled up beside me, The Dan is at my feet, and Stanley and Haiku-kitty has the bed. I'm working on a grant about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill - a small pilot project, an interesting one - and I do hope it gets funded. Cross your fingers and toes, okay?