Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Floral Dilemna:

For my systematic botany class, I've been collecting and pressing plants for a herbarium. Of course, they also have to be correctly identified via keying them out with a dichotomous key. Many of the specimens are easy to nail down right away...and the flora is used primarily to confirm the identity of the plant. For others, it can be exceptionally difficult unless you have as much information about the plant as possible, such as roots, seeds, flowers, leaves, habitat and visual access (dissecting scope) to minute structures such as the filaments of the stamens, or the placentation of ovaries that you can hardly see to begin with (let alone how the ovules within them are attached). You don't really notice it much until you try to do this, but it isn't terribly common to be able to see flowers and seeds development on a single species in a single day, especially wildflowers. Their whole program is one of blooming, setting and ripening the seed all as quickly as it can for optimum survival of the next generation of plants. That's the introduction to my problem. Here's the problem:

This plant is Lomatium gormanii

© Gerald D. Carr

And here is a picture of another plant, also in the apiaceae family, Orogenia linearifolia:

They look a lot alike, don't they? I have a plant that I'm pretty certain is Lomatium gormanii, but someone who knows more about plants than I do says it's Orogenia. He only glanced at my specimen, and it was pressed and dried, and he didn't see where it was growing, *and* these two are almost identical to the casual observer as far as I can tell, so I don't know how he can say that, unless he is seeing soemthing that I have overlooked in the flora and plant guides I've consulted, such as a dramatic size difference between the two. The roots are almost the same, the flowers are the same color, leaves very similar, even the minute detail of the flowers are very much alike.

Part of why I think it's Lomatium gormanii is that the Orogenia grows in damp soil, whereas L.gormanii grows on dry rocky slopes and rocks, which is exactly where I found it. That site will be dry as a bone within a month or so. Also, Orogenia apparently was collected for food and makes sizable roots, but this plant has only a small sub-globose tuber, about the size of a little pearl onion. And Orogenia linearifolia typically grows in large groups which flower all at once, and the umbels are only 1/4" across, whereas this plant has umbels which are slightly larger and there were only a few plants on the site, hardly the blanket of blooms described of the other species.

Lastly, I should mention that neither of the plants are present in most field guides for the area, either online or in text. Orogenia linearifolia is apparently a species of concern in Montana, and sightings of the Lomatium gormanii aren't terribly common either in this area, from the information I've found so far. So either way, It would seem I've found an interesting plant. I just wish I knew what it was. Of course, it doesn't help matters at all that the lomatiums exhibit quite a bit of morphological variation.

Monday, April 13, 2009

All my posts should be prefaced with:

"The following is my subjective opinion. Accuracy or truth relative to other's subjective opinions may vary. In fact, you might think I'm full of it."

On that note, then...I am unusually sensitive to scent, for a human. I find, upon reflection, that I have allowed scent, a sense which more or less bypasses the frontal lobes and goes straight to the limbic system, to be the decisive factor in many of the life changing decisions I've made in my time. Uh-oh, that isn't very rational, and it's oh-so important for me to entertain the notion that I, an aspie, am a logical, rational person who can put emotions aside and looks at a situation objectively. is what it is, and I am what I am.

As with many ideas which are known to be erroneous, it's easy to find examples and justifications to support the idea that scent=truth.
I'm not yet prepared to throw the validity of scent out the window, though...not yet. Scent means too much to me.

There was the time I took an immediate and strong aversion to a young man because he smelled aggressive and dangerous to me. Others said he was a nice young man...I knew better. I gave him a wide berth and avoided him as much as possible. Within a month or two, he was dead, apparently due to overdosing on drugs. Did I smell the drugs, on some subconcious level? I'll never know. I'm sort of glad I never had to find out more about him.

There was another guy I avoided due to scent. His scent made me feel almost ill. I don't know why he smelled that way, but he really smelled bad to me. It was an extremely unusual odor..not like B.O. or anything, just..odd, very strong, and very unnatural. A chemical smell.

Young men tend to have a distinctive musky odor, particularly teenagers. It raises all my panic buttons. I don't know why. I avoided them. They smelled too...potent.

People who just aren't taking care of themselves at all usually have that sort of an odor about them. It's a combination of cat spray, decay, not washing often enough, stale urine and dirty house. At first, it seems cruel to avoid someone for smelling like that, but serious neglect of personal needs and cleanliness is a sign of mental instability, so....again, makes sense.

Cheap cigarettes: good tobacco smells bad enough. Cheap ones? Ew.

Boozy + unwashed: dangerous. Potential violence, rape, or worse. Avoid if possible, placate and escape ASAP if avoidance is not an option.

Female perfumes really, really bug me. I encountered a person like this a day or two ago. Her scent got all over me. I couldn't avoid that. As soon as I could, I tried to wash it off. I scrubbed all the way up to my elbows, four times, and the smell was still there. Then it was time for lunch, and every time I brought the food to my mouth, I felt like gagging. I was finally, thank goodness, able to get it off completely by the next day.

Candy sweet female perfumes are just sticky and icky. But they're not as bad as the ones that smell like bedroom. You know, the ones that nearly shout "Screw ME!"? Uh, girls? I don't want to smell that. Not really. Save it for your partner. In your bedroom. Keep it in your bedroom. Please, please, please.

Thankfully, most people don't provoke such marked reactions from me. I don't know if I could endure social interaction if they did. It brings to mind some interesting questions about whether some autistics have an even better sense of smell, and whether that is why they don't want to be touched or approached by most people. For me though, 80% of people are merely interesting and intriguing to smell. I'm glad for that.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Spring is finally here! About bleepin' time!
I've come to the conclusion that I don't express myself well enough to other people. I always feel as though my feelings or thoughts are being worn right on the surface of my skin, so to speak. It's one of the reasons I don't make much eye contact, I'm afraid for people to read everything my eyes hold. And I don't think it's really working out for me to relate to other people in the way I would like to be related to. Now, I don't exactly know what to do about this...because....I have no idea what they want, in terms of being related to, and whether it woudl be offensive to make a display in that direction. It woudl feel extremely artificial and phony for me to do so, and to me, offensive, but I'm not sure if it would offensive to them...if I could figure it out in the first place.

Why can't I just tell people what I'm really thinking or feeling? Well, because. They never seem to want to know, which is a lot of why I write here. And as you can see from my huge, huge following and overabundance of comments (sarcasm), people are SO interested in what I write here, haha. Occasionally I meet people who bring me out and I start talking, and I invariably say a lot more than I mean to, and wonder later on if saying that was wise. Or I blurt out what I'm thinking without meaning to, and the reactions can be varied.

I'm often very critical, maybe because I think a lot and mentally evaluate and comapare and analyze stuff all the time. People frequently assume that if I'm this critical, I must think I'm so great, fantastic, etc. Nothing could be further from the truth. I excoriate myself more than anyone else...I just do it in silence, for the most nobody hears it. Or, they think that because I speak from my point of view all the time, that all I think about is myself. That isn't true either. I actually forget i have a body sometimes because I'm lost in thoughts, or in my surroundings, or taking in what's in front of me. As I get older and have aches and pains, it's less of a problem than it used to be (humor). No, what it is, is that I don't know what other people are thinking, and then, when they tell me, I often feel that inquiring further into their thought process might be intrusive. I know what I think about other people, how I feel or think of them, but I can't see things from their point of view, and I really think anyone who claims they can is fooling themselves.

Sorry for the bad grammar and inevitable typos...I'm sort of thinking out loud here.

I care about people a lot, a LOT. I just don't express it well enough. Also, it embarrasses me to care about other people. And I'm afraid they'll hurt my feelings. Maybe they don't run every hurtful thing said to them over and over a hundred or more times in their mind, but I do, and it hurts me every, single time it gets replayed, and it just keeps playing, over and over, and over. It isn't that I have a grudge, it's that it continues to hurt. When I ask "normal" people about this, they say they don't experience it. I don't know. Ugh.

Writing about stuff like this makes me feel really lonely. :-/
But it was actually a good day, a really nice day. I got a lot done. And other than being tired and feeling abnormally cold on such a sunny day, I have no complaints about today. The tomato seedlings are up. Yeah, yeah, I know....I didn't start them early enough. But frankly, with the spring being so late, I'm willing to take the gamble that this timing was appropriate for the year. I saw a lot of birds today and had no idea what most of them were. I think one might have been a mountain chickadee.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

I had a dream the other night that I was keeping a goat in my town. I realized that if I hid her well and she was quiet, I could get away with it. Ah, dreams..... I think it's extremely irrational and unfair that certain animal species are allowed in town while others are not. Why is it acceptable for people to have animals that are fairly large, carnivorous, and are known to chase cars or bite people or to bark all night long, and which (on average) serve no practical use, but it's not Ok to have a few laying hens or a single, well contained doe goat, which would not smell (only bucks smell), bark at night, chase cars, or bite people?

I know of a couple people in town who have rabbits, and I'm not sure if that's legal or not, but it should be. Rabbits are absolutely silent. If one happened to get loose, it would be snatched up by a predator in short order. I would keep rabbits myself, just for the manure (we're vegetarian, so the meat is not an incentive) but I'm allergic to them. If you have an acre of land in town, you may keep a horse; however, you may not have a sheep. Or 6 quiet, rooster-less laying hens. Where is the logic in this?

The next thing we know, they'll pull up in front of our house and tell us we can't convert our useless, wasteful lawn into vegetable and perennial beds.

And please don't write me telling me I can go out and buy organic eggs. I can tell that those hens aren't living as they should be. The organic store eggs don't taste much different from any other store egg. Besides, I don't get the manure. You know, for the garden.

Living in town isn't what it's cracked up to be. Unfortunately the land here seems to have more value as "investment!" and "view!" (frankly, the place is so darned pretty that almost every area has a nice view in some direction) and "development potential!" (groan) and "nice second home!" or "build your dream house here, a short half hour to town" (they forget to mention that the short half hour is on winding country roads or that town is Priest River, population of 1500 or less. The bottom line is that the land is good only as a status symbol, with the result that it doesn't get used for anything but landing pads for McMansions and lawns.

I really want to move.