Saturday, November 21, 2009

My name is Jennifer Leaf, and I am an addict. Try as I might, I just cannot control my penchant for....for plants...especially plants that bear fruit...especially weird, uncommon, or hard to find fruit. Day after day, I am confronted on a daily basis with temptations I cannot ignore. Like those acorns under the oak tree in the park. Or the winged seeds of Japanese maples. Today, I succumbed again. This time, I really went over the top. I bought 4 kinds of apples I didn't have seeds for, and a bunch of persimmons. I even justified by latter because they were on sale. And of course, I couldn't stop with eating the apples....I saved each and every viable seed from the Pippins (the viability rate on these was alarmingly low, only 3-4 seeds per apple!) and planted them. The only reason I haven't planted the others is that I feel nauseous and so haven't eaten them yet. Also, I have two Hachiya persimmon seeds that I am hoarding under my laptop, and two different kinds of stone pine (monophylla and edulis) in the bottom drawer of the fridge. And the worst part is, I'm never done looking. I can't stop looking for new kinds of apples, different fruits that might have seeds. Because then, I can plant them.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Currently listening to: "Hey there Delilah" (Plain White T's) and "Breathe" (Anna Nalick).

And my mood is: slightly melancholy without really being able to put a finger on why. Well, maybe that's silly of me; there's enough going on to be able to have a mildly low mood for no single reason.

Only, in addition to all that, I have this vague but persistent sensation of a gap, a space, where something ought to be. The only thing I can compare it to is having an empty glass in your hand and realizing you've been holding this glass for awhile and that at some point, you meant to fill it with some beverage, but forgot what. Or going through half of your morning and sort of remembering something, then realizing that you had an interesting dream that morning, but the details are fuzzy.

I am trying to do my homework, and there is so much ruckus going on (not constantly, just sporadically and enough to be disruptive) that I can't focus enough to compose the thoughts into well crafted sentences that flow nicely. Oh sure, I could scrawl something down, but if it were only quiet, it would all come easily and more or less right the first time with a fraction of the agony and effort....
OK, it's quiet now. And, my eldest son gave me a bag of Jelly Belly beans as a belated B-day present, and I've eaten almost all of them (not so keen on the buttered popcorn flavor). I was 114# this morning, want to bet I've gained two back by morning?? Aw, I'm not complaining. In fact, I can't believe he gave these to me. Yeah, the health-foodie treehugger succumbs to junk food on occasion....

Saturday, August 29, 2009

What a loser:

Rammel jokes about presidential death threats.

"Rex Rammell, the East Idaho veterinarian who would like to be a Senator or governor or something, has criticized Gov. Otter for not buying the first wolf tag and, according to the Times-News, indicated he'd buy an "Obama tag" if offered....(snipped for brevity, see the link for full text)...After an audience member shouted a question about "Obama tags" during a discussion on wolves, Rammell responded, "The Obama tags? We'd buy some of those.".........(more trimming)

"Rammell also said Otter should have been first in line or ordered Fish and Game to save him the first tag and told Times-News reporter Jared Hopkins that the governor should have prioritized buying the tag over attending a former lawmaker's funeral.

He said "there's nothing wrong with going to a funeral" but promises as both a governor and a candidate should be followed through on. He questioned whether environmental groups pressured Otter to back off.

"He could've had someone go get it for him," he said. "Hell, he's the governor. He could've ordered the Fish and Game to give him the first tag."
First of all, the FBI should be knocking on this guy's door, yesterday. Secondly, his fellow Republitards should be shunning him as though he has the plague, or the bird flu. Thirdly, I really, really hope this jerk doesn't get elected, but I have no real reason to suspect that he won't. After all, this is Idaho. Fourth, he is zealous to the point of fanaticism on the topic of hunting wolves, an animal the vast majority of Idahoans have never gotten to see or hear because there are so few of them, even though our tax dollars paid dearly to restablish them here in their natural habitat. And now we are hunting them? There aren't enough to ensure the genetic diversity of the population if half of them are killed, which is exactly what the Idaho Fish and Game intends to do, issue tags until half of them have been killed off. Lastly, this man is wholly unfit for any government office. He seriously believes that holding an office is all about procuring perks and enforcing one's whims on others. Any person with that mentality is not a public servant, and lest we forget, our office holders are placed in their positions to serve us, not to gratify their own egos and whims. The man is a disgrace to this beautiful state and emblematic of what needs to change, right now, about Idaho.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Maybe it's just finals week, but I'm getting really burned out on people. People are disgusting. Oh, that's too harsh. Rather, they do disgusting things, such as:

  • Picking nose or teeth in public and then scrutinizing the results.
  • Adopting that phoney nicey-nice tone of voice. It is SO false! Who the hell do they think they're fooling? By the way, this is generally confined to female persons. Men pretend to be kindly.
  • Wearing clothes which are way, way too tight. I don't care how hot you are, there is a limit on how tight clothes can be without looking well, bad.
  • Driving aggressively only because they have a big truck. Hey, have a little regard for other people. Drving like you have every intention of running everyone else off the road isn't macho, it's small dick syndrome.
  • Wearing lots of perfume. The goal with perfume is to enhance your natural scent, not deluge everyone around you in an olfactory flood. The most attractive smelling people around wear little to no scent. I notice these things.
  • Mouthy/oral behavior. I don't want to see your tongue piercing, watch you lick or suck on your pencil or pen, or run your lips all over your water or pop bottle. We aren't toddlers anymore. Adults are expected to confine their oral fixations to private or socially acceptable settings.
  • Groping oneself, itching their hind end, massaging inner thighs...again, ick!! I do NOT want to see or think about this. ick, ick, ick.
  • The "I like this for personal reasons, therefore it is right, safe, ethical, etc", mentality. Fine, you like it. Like it for your own reasons and leave it at that. There is no reason on earth why we have to agree with you, or why we should be harrassed for having different preferences.
  • Tanned, oiled cellulite bulging out of clothes. Look, I understand cellulite. Most of us have it. But it's dimpled and ripply, and tanning and oiling it doesn't help at all.
  • Macho bragging. Shut UP already.
  • Collaborative bitching (females, usually). Been there, done that. Commiserating on the source of one's misery and then bitching some more does nothing to actually solve the problem. Oh, wait, you don't care, because bitching is *fun*. What are you going to do when the object of your gripes happens to hear you?
  • Hating others for being successful. Frankly, makes a person look even more like a loser.
  • Bitching about others when you have a lot of your own issues to work on. Oh wait. That resembles someone. Ummm. Yeah. OK, I'll stop now.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

WHY in the hell do people spit on stuff and then hand it to people, or spit on someone else's books, papers, magazines, etc? The most irritating aspect of this digusting habit is the total nonchalance with which it is done:

"I'm feeling lazy today, so I'l just lick my fingers and get my slobber all over this money before I hand it to you. And since it's money, I know you'll take it."

Gag! Or, how about this little gem:

"Nice to look at your book (magazine, whatever). I don't feel like seperating the pages carefully, so I'll just spread my saliva onto each and every page I touch, ensuring that you'll catch any cold or bug I have the next time you touch it. And besides, the human bodily fluids adhered to the page are a nice touch, don't you think?".

This is incredibly, insufferably rude, and it gets even worse when the person writes in your book, magazine, whatever! If I wanted it defiled, I'd defile it myself, thank you. Handling someone's elses dried spit is not my idea of a good time.

(Yeah, I do feel crabby, atcually. And grossed out).

Saturday, May 30, 2009

We went to the John A. Finch Aboretum. Manito Park (both places are in Spokane) is also nice, but they are two entirely different places, but I prefer the former....because it has the Stewartia (and many other really cool trees). I collected all sorts of seeds but now it seems that I have lost most of them. A Concolor Fir, Bird's Nest Spruce, and I think a Picea orientalis. The apple trees (crab apples) were in full bloom, but to be honest, I wasn't half as taken with them as I was with the conifers and of course, the Stewartia.

Next, the Lomatium Dilemna. Now that a month or two has gone by, I returned to the site where I collected the plant that I thought was Lomatium gormanii. It took some careful searching, but I found the same clump I'd picked from. I was in luck- there was a seedhead. After careful consideration, I have decided that it is not Lomatium gormanii, it is Lomatium geyeri, but it is still a close call. My reasons for changing my mind on this are that: geyeri is a taller plant, up to twice the height of gormanii. When I first saw this plant, it was in flower, and the height was consistent with gormanii. Now that the seedhead has matured, the scape has grown to 20 cm although it was about ten in flower. Similarly, the shape of the umbel altered considerably between flowering and fruiting...I would not have expected this, but now that I think about it, dill does that too, IIRC. Lastly, the seeds are not exactly like gormanii, but they are very much like geyeri. By the way....another thing I found that couldn't be detected for certain earlier: it has a carpophore! Therefore, it definitely is not Orogenia linearifolia. So, I was wrong, but I was right.

I have been really busy taking care of business, cleaning house and getting the garden in before the summer semester starts. There has been absolutely no time for art or even to read a new book...well, that isn't quite true. I read The Nanny Diaries, but this was light, easy reading. I had intended to read a classic like Lolita, Anna Karenina, or The Last of the Mohicans. Perhaps I should borrow audio books...but I like the physical act of reading sooo....

What I've been listening to: "Hey there Delilah", a song that resonates with me strongly.

Monday, May 25, 2009

There's too much pain in this world. Way too much. I don't know how people can function as though it doesn't exist. Worse than this, we all, every one of us, are perpetrators to some degree, creating pain in one way or another. It's possible to create less pain, but (until convinced otherwise at least) it is not possible to create no pain at all.

I'd like to console myself with the thought that pain is endemic in the natural world as well: rodents eat one another's babies, death is an integral part of life, pain is just part of the cycle, you know.... But when I look at the human world, our behavior can be so aberrant and so utterly pointless that it's horrifying.

And worse, what I am coming to understand is that almost every person who causes pain is in denial. Every blow, every theft, every murder, every broken heart and spirit is justified in one way or another. How else could former Nazis move to Argentina or wherever and settle down and raise a family, dandling children on their knees after shoving innocent people, children included, into crematoriums?

I'm trying to find a meaning here and coming up empty. If you think of anything, let me know.

Friday, May 22, 2009

I get to go the Fitch Arboretum and see my favorite Stewartia tree today! Woo hoo! I am so jazzed! :)

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.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Food: We tried tamarind for the first time today. Initially, I bought the tamarind pods to draw, but since tomatillos are perishable, I have to finish drawing them first, and my gaze kept sliding over to those weird, lumpy brown pods. The more I looked at them, the more curious I became, so I selected the plainest of the bunch (I meant to draw the others) and broke it in half. When I pulled the two halves apart, the interior, which was slimy, lumpy, brown and very reminiscent of waste rather than food. I was a little hesitant to put that in my mouth, but am so glad I did! It has a wonderfully sour, sweet, flavor, bettter than the sour candy. I talked the kids into trying it (they were also quite reluctant) and before long, only a couple of the pods were left...oops! I guess I'll have to buy more. There are large seeds embedded in the brown pulp, so we planted several pots of those, to see if we can get it to grow as a houseplant. The next food we'll be trying: mochi.

Movie Review: Twilight

I generally don't watch wildly popular movies, but my son and I have been devouring the book series by Stephanie Meyers (more on that later, after we finish the fourth book). I liked the first book well enough that watching the movie seemed worthwhile.
Predictably enough, I didn't like the movie half as well as the book.

The girl, Bella, is portrayed as intelligent and hardworking in the book series. In the movie, she seems pretty dippy. Her vocabulary is limited, and where she could have been bright and shy, she comes across as shy and dumb. Even though she's madly in love with Edward in the book, she comes across as merely needy in the movie; there was no fire, no passion. Edward was definitely creepy, but his hair, UGH!! I mean, does it have to stand up on end like that? His eyebrows were drawn in too heavily, making him look artificial. If his hair had been styled in a less alarming, attention grabbing (hardly what a closet vampire would want) style and his eyebrows had a more nearly natural thickness, he would have looked so much more convincing.

I'm not sure that these are faults of the actors, either. Many aspects of the movie were quite convincing- Bella's convulsions, for instance, and Edward's overly formal manner. James, Alice, and Jacob were all much as I had imagined, as were Carlisle, Esme, and Billy.

For all the hype and attention this movie got, I think a little more TLC on the presentation of the main characters would have made such a difference. As it was, it came across as less interesting and more sappy than the book was. Oh, one last comment- the music was absolutely perfect. I just think they needed to fire the makeup artist and whoever told Bella to act so dumb.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


As promised: I certainly don't experience synesthaesia the way Daniel Tammet does, but I think I have traces of it. Examples:

When I was a child, I saw numbers as though they were arranged like a deck of cards extending infinitely into space. The positive numbers ascended slightly while the negative numbers descended. In other words, try to picture a number line where instead of a line with dots, you have numbers written on cards, the cards overlap, and they are on a continuous, infinite incline. The cards were transparent, I couldn't really see the card, just the numbers, which, by the way, were all transparent black. To add, I had to mentally move up the line, and the number that was the answer would be larger, bigger, sort of like a card pulled up out of a deck or from a hand of cards. The multiples of ten were bigger. When I counted aloud, my voice would build in expectation every time I neared a multiple of ten, like kids do when they're playing hide and seek and are nearing the count of twenty, only for me, it was every multiple of ten, not just twenty.

Time to me is a circle graph. Each year is a circle, and it is joined to the year before it on January first, so that all the years together are like a continuous spiral extending back to the time when I was born, at which point the spiral tapers down and becomes tiny before it vanishes. The end of it, where I will die, will be torn off roughly rather than tapering smoothly as the beginning did. Each circle or year progresses in a counter clockwise fashion. The seasons are deliniated by an X. The top quarter is winter, composed of December, January, and February. The left quarter is spring: March, April, and May. The bottom quarter is summer; June, July, August, while the right hand quarter is fall; September, October, November. Holidays and birthdays flash like little lights in the months as I visualize them. The spiral is compressed most of the time, except when I am thinking of a time or trying to remember when some event happened. Then the spiral stretches out and I work back progressively until I find the circle I need.

Time as in daily time is also a circle graph, but not what you might expect. I will have to draw it and post an image of it here for it to make sense. All 24 hours are in one circle, and they aren't evenly divided. This may be why I allocate time differently than other people. Some parts of the day feel much longer and more expansive to me than others even though I know that they are really all the same length.

I sometimes visualize scent.

And textures often have sounds to me, especially squeaky, disagreeable sounds. For example, cotton balls, frosted glass, and certain fabrics all feel horrible and sound excruciating to me.

In order to do math, I more or less have to visualize the numbers moving around, and I think this is why I have so much trouble with algebra, especially if I don't understand *why* the numbers are moving or when they can or can't move.

Drifting off the topic of synesthaesia now, certain sensory experiences are simply heavenly to me. Smelling a certain scent, seeing a certain shade of a color, feeling the wind blow against my face, hair, or body, the sound of the wind. I love wind. And I can't explain it at all, but the people who smell the best to me, smell like wind feels or looks.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'm over it now. After explaining that I had PTSD to my teacher, he was more careful with me and I am coping much better with the class. It really wasn't his fault that being pinned to the ground by a large, strong man caused me to freak out and have flashbacks.

I just finished reading Born on a BLue Day by Daniel Tammet and found it pretty interesting. It was impossible for me not to compare my own experiences with his. I think that some of his traits/quirks/abilities/differences may have been caused by the epilepsy rather than the Asperger's....not that I am in any way qualified to say so one way or the other, but he more or less says so too.

In the context of synesthaesia, I have more to say, but not tonight.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I am still upset over that. Honestly, my entire week has been stained and distorted by it. I do want to clarify that I'm not upset over the physical pain, which was very temporary. I think it had more to do with the fact that a rather large, muscular man was physically restraining me.

And see, this is why I don't like big muscular guys. They're scary to me.

I don't know what to do about this yet. I can't simply drop the class. I don't know.

When people say that rape, molestation, physical abuse, neglect, etc, don't really have any long term effect, they don't know what the hell they're talking about. Or they're in denial. Or they're a perpetrator. Or all of the above. It seems really unfair sometimes that I have to spend so much time and exert so much effort to repair the damage done by truly rotten people while they just keep living like they always have, finding someone else to wreck. They get away with it. I have to clean up the mess they left behind. And then tolerate attitudes from clueless types who tell me to magically get over it in a single day (or minute).

I suppose the main consolation is knowing that I appreciate life more deeply because I know how lousy it could be.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Current mood: seriously pissed off. I just got out of self defense class. The instructor was teaching us moves to take down and subdue an attacker. He demonstrated these moves on each of us. Instinct took over and naturally, I struggled, tried to escape, resisted, etc. We were supposed to indicate submission by tapping the mat. Well, admitting pain to a person attacking me isn't my strong point. I tend to either try to get away, to conceal any demonstration of pain (bullies and abusers feed on the high of causing pain) or to zone out of my body and go numb to the pain entirely. In other words, I kept trying to get away, and when I couldn't, went to refuse pain-go numb mode, which usually mollifies an attacker, only the point here was to keep trying to subdue me until I begged for mercy. By the time it felt like my wrist would be injured, I followed orders and tapped, but by this time, serious amounts of adrenaline were coursing through me and I felt seriously pissed off. Need I say that this occurred several times? It took most of my remaining self control not to flip out.

I am shaking and I don't feel very good.

Friday, March 13, 2009

These little houses are incredibly cool! They look like something out of Tolkein's books.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I realized tonight that I have a greater affinity for scents than I do tastes. In a way, this is great, because you can smell all sorts of things that you can't taste, and can enjoy the scent of tastable things without having to buy, procure, or otherwise arrange to be able to taste them. On the other hand, smell is very ephermal, scent memories are haunting, and food is more convenient because you can carry it with you and *store* it.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The greyness is creeping like tendrils into my consciousness. But stealthily, steadily. And at the edge of my soul, I feel a nagging, a discomfort somehow.

I'm not happy with the pears. In fact, I hate them. Another student (who is an artist) gave me some tips on how to fix them, but I'm not optimistic.

I think that's the hardest thing about life. You go on your way, making mistakes, and you never get to erase them or to tear up the paper or shatter the badly formed pottery and make a new one. People talk about second chances, but this is an illusion, because it isn't a new canvas, it's the same one smeared with layers of old, despicable mistakes, and you can't paint something new and fresh, you can only add to what's already there. It's supremely frustrating.

People who know me well always say that I don't talk enough. I think I talk entirely too much. I think out loud. I don't censor my thoughts before I say them. They're disjointed. Or sometimes, I substitute entire words, unintentionally. Spoken language is a very difficult media.

Hope. People talk a lot about hope, as though it's some panacea for mankind. Frankly, I'm skeptical. I think hope is like the promise of a new beginning, more or less the same thing. Which is to say, it doesn't really exist. Hopeful promising things don't fall out of the sky and save our ass or bring new meaning to life and help evrything to make sense. What happens is that occasionally we get a slightly different color for our palette and we're so godawful excited about it that we feel liberated, until reality sets in again.

I think I need to cut my hair.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

I did another colored pencil drawing...two pears. Will post it in a few days. I have a tremendously intimidating chemistry test coming up so don't expect it until after then.

I've been thinking about the coming spring and garden, and cold frames. I might post a rough sketch of the idea I have for that, too. Basically, I want to find a way to make a temporary cold frame that will enrich the soil where it's been, so that after the frame is moved, there is more or less a raised bed where it was, requirign no tilling. I've come to the conclusion, over the years, that double digging isn't all it's been cracked up to be. I think it disrupts the soil, the layers of organisms in the soil, and kills earthworms, which to me is a major issue. I hate killing earthworms. There isn't room in the house to start all the brassica and other cool crops indoors, so if I can put them outside and have only the nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc) and basil (can't forget the basil!) inside, that will really help.

Other than that, I don't have a lot to say. I've been dieting and have lost 7-9 # in the past two weeks, despite eating regularly, merely by counting calories, eschewing fat and excess carbs, and eating lots of fresh foods or low calorie soups, which are very filling. Exercise would be good, but my bicycle broke...badly. Will probably have to get another.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wild ideas

An assortment and sampling of the ideas that run through my head:

  • Cashmere goats. They are so much less work than dairy goats. I can't drink the milk anyway. Also, Cashmeres have no breed registry in the U.S., as they are not technically a breed, so the field is A. wide open and B. probably freer of the petty snobbery which is so rife in the dairy goat world and C. a good opportunity for developing my own breed standards and priorities , as opposed to doggedly following those which are laid out in the ADGA handbook.  I think the thing to do would be to buy a few does from imported (NZ) bloodlines and then use (also imported) semen to A.I. them. Why imported? Because, I've done some homework into this subject and am so far unimpressed by the quality of American stock. Most American stock is strongly influenced by Spanish, Boer, or Pygmy strains, because people want dual purpose (meat and fiber) animals as opposed to just high qaulity fiber, which is what I want. 
  • Or, how about this: Cashmere dairy goats. In other words, fiber goats that also produce milk. Why not have one fiber and one dairy goat? Well, for one thing, non dairy breeds typically have much higher butterfat and protein percentages than dairy goats. Also, most people don't need gallons and gallons of milk per day, unless they're raising calves or pigs or are making cheese. They just want a little high quality milk, thus the popularity of the Nigerian Dwarf, a breed that makes my back ache when I think of working with them (they are tiny...and though I am short, I don't want animals I have to bend over to work with).  So...with this plan, get  a few nice very high quality dairy goats and A.I. them with imported Cashmere semen, and cross the lines, breed the F1s to more Cashmere semen, evaluate and cull, until a goat with nice fiber and decent milk production (1-2 quarts a day would be fine) is obtained. 
  • Spotted knapweed. Why in the hell doesn't Monsanto genetically engineer a strain of spotted knapweed which has the Terminator technology? Areas with knapweed problems could then sow (yes, plant) this improved knapweed and it would cross with the existing (non-native invasive noxious weed) strains and when the two pollinated, the seed would all be sterile. Thus, over a series of years, no viable seed would be left, voila, no more knapweed. I think it must be because Monsanta would rather posion the country with 2,4D, round-up, and other poisons. Temporary and not-entirely effective solutions are a better money maker. 
  • Pinus edulis and Pinus monophylla are two extremely slow growing trees which both produce delicious and edible seeds. I ordered some from this site and they are delicious. I decided I'd like to grow some of these wonderful trees. Well, guess what. It can take 60 years for them to reach 6 feet in height! In other words, mature productive trees are ancient and venerable. Now get this: aside from pine nuts, the other major uses for these two species are Christmas tree, timber (including rialroad ties) and pulp! Yeah, like paper pulp, something which could easily be produced with hemp (not the THC kind), or even better, recycled paper. But noooo....they have to cut down a beautiful pinon pine that took 300 years to grow so that people can have soft cushy toilet paper, even though that tree can make *food* year after year. Idiotic. Worse, the Xmas trees! The trees take a hundred years to attain the right height for Xmas trees, so yeah, whack'em down so that some spoiled family can have a nice tree for what, all of a month? Grrrrr...... I probably sound draconian, but this ought to be illegal. 
  • Therefore, I have yet another idea. There are many species of trees, including a pine, which can be coppiced. Coppicing means that when you ct down a tree, it regrows from the sump, usually several shoots, and they grow a lot faster than the first growth, because they've got a mature and extensive root system feeding them. You can then cut down one of the second growths, and the other tops will be bigger, and you can continue to harvest them this way for centuries without ever killing the tree. I think this should be the only (or at least the primary) source of timber and cellulose. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

At school everyone calls me by my actual name. At first this felt really weird. Now it seems strange to be called Rebekah. Actually, the long form of my name feels excessively formal. Not sure I like that but don't quite know what to do about it. 

The sysbot test was today. I studied all three days of the weekend, even went on a field trip to see the trees in more detail and in different situations, etc, to get a solid feel for the big picture...studied notes, rewrote them and was quizzed, and read and reread the flora (Hitchcock's Flora of the Pacific Northwest). It seemed a little like overkill, but I had a feeling that the test would be challenging. Ah. It was. I am soooo glad I studied. I know I got several questions wrong, but it would have been quite the nightmare had I not gone all out. And next time, I will study even harder. The class is *fun*, but it is not  a cake walk. I can't gripe, though. Fact of the matter is that since I love the subject, studying for it is no pain at all. 

Next week: Math test. I think I am finally catching up on the math. 

Socially, am making more acquaintances. I am still not very good at small talk, despite a conscious effort in this direction. I don't have a lot of small things to talk about. For me, nearly any subject can lead into more depth or perspective or tangents, and people don't seem to like that. A lot of them want the small talk comments to be short little sound bites, but then what do you say? Another little sound bite? How do you know when to switch from one trivial topic to another? People get bored so easily. They have no attention span. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

Finally figured out how to post images. Hmmm. Also just noticed that blogger has a lot more options easily accesible than when I started this blog. I used to use html for everything from bulleted lists to italics (still do, actually), but it appears I don't really have to anymore...not that's it's been any great effort to use html. 

At any rate, the two pictures below are of some of my art from 2007; an artichoke and a cherry turnover. I'll have to ferret out some more and post that too. The orchids are blooming wildly and tempting me to take an hour or two to draw them...but, I have to finish my Pseudotsuga menziesii page in my botany notebook. I drew only half of the pinecone. This isn't making much sense. I suppose I'll have to post a page from that notebook in order to articulate what I mean. 

Oh, and I saw a male black-backed woodpecker while XX skiing yesterday! Also, a single Taxus brevifolia, Acer glabrum and a lot of diverse pseudotsuga (and other trees) under different conditions, which highlighted how variable the trees can look depending on their situation. Phenotypes and all that jazz. 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Strange Ruminations

I haven't had goats for a couple of years now, and it's been longer than that since I've shown them or had an active breeding program. At one time, I had aspired to be a dairy goat judge, not for the power or control or prestige, but because I really enjoyed evaluating the animals. The late great Harvey Considine, who I had the incredible honor of meeting and chatting with, thought I had a good eye for the work. He told me something I found funny at the time, that his father (I think?) who was also in livestock (although not dairy goats) had a habit or looking at people's feet, at the way they walked. Oddly enough, this habit has become mine. I think I pay more attention to human feet and general movement "on the move" (good dairy goat judges judge the animals while walking slowly, not when primped and posed artificially) than I do their faces.

Harvey was can tell and learn a lot by watching people move and walk, and by observing their shoes and feet. Very obese people, for example, tend to have lower legs that splay out at the knees. I haven't decided yet whether this is because they need extra stability for the added mass, or if the added mass of the thighs forces the lower legs (and therefore the feet as well) outward. Watching them walk is know that their knees must hurt, and that the more those knees hurt, the less they'll want to move around and exercise, creating a vicious cycle. Very musclular men who work out a lot move their upper bodies differently and with less mobility than leaner men do, as though constrained. High heels tend to predispose women to take a sort of stomping, stabbing motion with their walk, which makes their rear ends more noticable, but in my opinion, deprives them of a certain grace and flow, too. I've also noticed that people (usually men) who take what seem to be carefully measured, precise, and intentional steps tend to be pretty methodical and well, precise. People with flat feet stand very differently than others, with their toes pointed out and an entirely different stance.

So I suppose it was only a matter of time before I noticed my own walk. It's my right foot/leg, the side that's shorter, the side whose hip bothers me more. That hip swings out at a different angle than the other one. It has more limited range of motion in some directions, but in a normal walk, I can feel it moving differently, swinging out farther. Since there's snow, I watch my prints. They're not symmetrical. That right foot hits the ground at a different angle, and the hip joint moves as it hits the ground, as I put weight on that foot. It's a decidedly disagreeable sensation even though it doesn't hurt most of the time. I guess that at this point, I could throw myself a little pity party because I'd like to run and romp and climb and jump like I used to and now these activites are very limited (and I pay for them later), but that seems pretty trite. What I'm concerned about is the possibility that whatever's making my hip joint move in this funky way is going to *really* limit my mobility later on. if I believed in a god, I would scream to him that I need to be able to enjoy *something* in life, and I don't want to live in a little cubicle, dammit. I need to breathe the fresh air and feel close to the trees and melt into the outdoors. I want to be climbing trees when I'm 70 or 80 years old.

Screw it. Forget god. I don't care if I lose both my legs, I'm not giving that up. I lost the goats, I've lost so much else...I am not losing the entire outdoors, too. Ugh, I'm ridiculous, who said I was going to lose my legs, anyway??

Friday, February 13, 2009

Maybe there isn't such a disparity bewteen botany and art. Many botanical books have extremely detailed, meticulous botanical art, not photographs, or art and photographs. Also, I think drawing plants (or anything else for that matter) is the best way to really know it. once you draw something, it's like it becomes a part of you, and in turn, a part of you has been invested in that drawing.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ha, that's really funny. I have 444 posts (not counting this one). That's so perfect that it's tempting to quit posting. 4 is my favorite number.

More detritus from my mind:

I kept smelling something incredibly seductive and couldn't trace it as I am pretty much alone. I finally figured it out- the scent of trees and forest on my hands. Yeah, that's right, trees. On my own hands. I am so weird!!

Today I saw: coyote, weasel, and rabbit tracks, Pinus ponderosa, monticola and contorta, Abies grandis, Thuja plicata, Tsuga heterophylla, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Mahonia repens (I think it is repens), Larix occidentalis, Oplopanax horridus, Acer glabrum, and of course the usual verbascum, etc... The weasel tracks came from and went to small holes in the crust of the snow; apparently weasels tunnel underneath the snow crust, which is pretty cool. There were almost no birds, although I saw plenty of evidence of bird activity.

And I'm finding myself more interested than I ever thought I would be in conifers. I wish that I had acerage to grow, side by side, all the Abies, Picea, Pinus, etc species (each genus in groups, I mean). The cones are incredibly interesting and appealing. Before, they were squirrel food and fire starter. I would never have imagined that I could get enthused about the same trees I've been living near, splitting into firewood, playing under, working with, climbing....well, maybe. Maybe I was this way all along and didn't realize it. I think though, that there's a tendency to romanticize about non-native species of plants while failing to appreciate what we have growing in abundance and splendor all around us.

And I still can't decide if I'd rather be a dcotor or a botanist, or what sort of botanist I'd be. In spite of myself, I still yearn to paint the pinecones, the verbascum, the patterns of the twigs. I wish with all my heart that I could make a living that way, and I know better.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nononononononononononononononono. No.

That is all. Never mind, move along.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wild vs Domesticated- goat conformation

The comparison between wild and well bred domesticated animals (or plants or anything else that can be bred, for that matter) is interesting because humans typically set about enacting a breeding program on the premises of improving upon nature. There's more than a little hubris involved in imagining that humans can implement vast improvements, in a few years, over what nature has cruelly, ruthlessly, relentlessly done for millenia. Granted, humans have been working on goats for a long time, since 9,000 BC, but wild goats continued to exist and evolve at the same time, so nature still has the upper hand.

I first began to have doubts about human improvements on wild/native species when some Canada geese flew in near a pair of Toulouse geese I was keeping. The contrast was striking: The wild geese were streamlined, elegant, beautiful, and self sufficient while the Toulouse geese looked dumpy and absurd beside them. Wild animals are often smaller than their tame counterparts (unless humans think that mini versions of the species are cute), and in farm animals, this is said to be more efficient. I bought into this line of thinking for a long time (literally), but it's hard to avoid drawing the unflattering parallel between wild/tame animals and Hummers or SUVs and highly efficient little cars. I'm not certain that bigger is better; it can be a decided disadvantage. Bigger animals take longer to attain their mature size, which means that their total reproductive output will probably be less, or that they risk dying if impregnated during the same time frame in which the wild types would be impregnated. It takes more food and more investment from the mother (in utero and while nursing the offspring) to feed a huge offspring than it does a smaller one, while compounding the risk of birthing difficulties. It is far less risky and more advantageous for the dam to have two smaller offspring than one big one. If one should die for some reason, she won't have lost all of her reproductive investment for that year.

This is one area where I think domestic goat breeders are off the mark. Many respectable, highly esteemed breeders do not breed their doelings to kid at a year old. They wait, holding a dry yearling over the winter, and breed her when she is 1.5 years old, to kid as a yearling. The dry yearlings tend to get fat and to deposit the fat around their internal organs, causing reproductive problems, and if they happen to escape impregnantion during their second fall, they are unlikely to be fertile for the third fall- too fat. The line of reasoning behind this practice is that the doelings are full grown yet and need to mature fully before being bred. My experience has been that if the doelings are adequately fed and protected somewhat from aggression by older does, they do well, kid without complications, and continue to grow. As for size, I hate to wear out the goat-car analogy, but it's true: efficiency is better than brute size. I have seen very large milkers that gave less than 4-5 lbs per day, and smaller does half their size that were producing 6-8 lbs per day as yearlings. The main difference between the two was that the efficient does put their feed into maintenence (which was minimal) and output (which was good thanks to the efficiency), whereas the bigger does had a lot more maintenence and didn't always put that extra food they ate into the milking pail (in the form of milk, I mean). I have seen occasional examples of does that were huge and milked extremely well, but I've seen more that laid their extra food onto their ribs in the form of fat. Let's not get into the nasty, gory sagas of assisting the birth of a 13-14 # kid. Size definitely has its downside.

Feet: This is an area where dairy goats really suffer. Breeders tend to overlook the feet, but if you have 200# of animal being supported by four little goat's a real recipe for trouble, especially when you add the extra weight of milk production, pregnancy, and food. Wild goats don't have this problem. If their feet break down, they don't last long and probably won't reproduce much.

Hardiness and mothering: these are traits which are being actively bred out by breeders, particularly with the advent of the CAEV virus.

Body proportions: Wild goats have a midsection which is proportionate to the rest of the body. Very well bred dairy goats do not. The ideal dairy goat will have a large, deep, well sprung barrel so that she looks as though she is pregnant all the time. Her back, from withers to hips, should be long. All the bones in her body should be long. I have come to prefer this ideal myself, but I wonder whether supporting the weight of a huge, deep belly takes a toll on the longer backs, and of course, how it all relates to the feet.

Shoulders, or the "uphill look": Well bred dairy goats are supposed to be noticably higher in the shoulders, or withers, than the hips. Deer and antelopes are higher in the hips. Some species of wild goats are slightly higher in the hips or level from withers to hips, while a few, including the mountain goat (which is actually an entirely different genus and not really a goat) are higher at the shoulders. It is very hard to acheive the ideal combination of high, tightly connected shoulders (you're not supposed to be able to see the tops of the shoulder blades move when the animal walks) *and* chest width. The rationale behind the uphill look is that the reproductive organs will drain better after birthing. I am calling B.S. on this unless someone can provide me with proof to the contrary. Deer have no trouble draining, and their rumps are quite a bit higher than their shoulders.

Udders: I wrote about foreudders a long time ago here. To recap it all briefly, I'm not sure that a "glued on" (very, very tightly attached) udder is ideal. When the kids butt it to nurse, it can't swing out of the way, so is more likely to get bruised and to develop mastitis. This seems to be more of a problem with close, tight foreudders. I do think that strong rear udders are advantageous as they provide most of the support in the udder suspension system that holds up the weight of all that milk. Which brings me to my last point....

Milk production: Is it really such a hot idea to breed to extreme production? To breed for goats that produce so much milk that they're at risk of developing hypocalcemia? Who milk so heavily that they cannnot consume enough food to replace what they're producing, so that they become thin and emaciated by midsummer?

Friday, January 16, 2009

I'm beginning to think that math can be fun, like a sudoku puzzle (with more variety). The only thing is, you don't get graded on sudoku puzzles, and in sudoku, there is sometimes more than one correct solution, whereas in math, there generally is not.

SysBot is going to be a blast! Lots of fun work.

Chemistry looks like it will be challenging but interesting.

I don't have a lot to say about the other classes here. Honestly, I'm tired today. One thing I am beginning to realize relating to college is that I am far more comptent and "abled" than I had previously thought. I also wonder at times whether I would be classified as having Asperger's if I'd had the advantage of a less traumatic and disruptive life. The majority of issues seem to relate more to anxiety and feeling intimidated by people and situations than typical spectrumite problems. Which isn't to say that there aren't issues which are spectrum related, but on reflection, it seems to me that normal people have a lot of social issues that I do not have.

Example- who said what about who at the baby shower? Who will have what place at Franny's wedding? Whose turn it is to invite Jan and Fred over to dinner, and are they taking advantage of us by feeding us spaghetti every time we dine at their house whereas we feed them better food? These are things that really do not not affect me; I waste no time at all worrying about them, but I have observed them as issues for other people with active social lives. More: June calls me every day when I am cleaning! What can I do? Summer wants to do something this weekend, but I don't want to...but I should. I want to have a party, but the two people I like best hate each other!

As I age, I find that my children are more and more precious to me, that really, children are a primary main purpose in life, unless we have none, in which case we devise other sorts of children (intellectual, surrogates, mentees, pets, etc). Lacking something of this nature, or motivation towards this end, people degenerate. They focus too strongly (yes, an aspie said this!) on some area of their life. Life becomes "all about me" (yes, I've heard people say this). They become addicted to drugs, work, drink, or a cause. They can be productive, sure...but I don't think they're filling their true purpose in life.

And don't misunderstand me: I'm not saying everyone needs to procreate physically. What I mean is that as humans, the needs to parent *something* is a central and essential component of our makeup. I'm also not saying that having a partner is unimportant, but I am beginning to feel that the primary purpose in having a partner, after the initial exhiliration has subsided a bit, is to have a partner for the purpose of parenting that child, idea, or mission. Similarly, on observation, I think the strongest partnerships are those which have a strong purpose, which may be why celebrities break up so frequently if their life is centered on self and hedonism.

I dunno. Maybe I'm wrong. I haven't thought through all the angles yet.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Birds seen today:

Pileated woodpecker, female
A big flock of Bohemian waxwings, flying in to feed on Sorbus (Mountain ash).
Pine Siskins
House finches
female Downy woodpecker (so cute!!)
Black capped chickadees
Chestnut backed chickadees

I confess a weakness for the woodpeckers, especially flickers. Eagles are cool, but after seeing the you-tube video of a golden eagle ripping helpless, bleating baby goats off the side of a cliff face, to their deaths, I just don't feel quite the same about them any more. Yes, I do realize that this isn't very objective of me.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Wow, what a year 2008 was! Let's hope 2009 will be a little easier. I did well enough in my fall semester and now have Systematic Botany (among other courses) for the Spring semester.