2015 Update

•March 11, 2015 • 4 Comments

In case anyone out there is still reading…

Our son — we’ll call him 1/2t for now – was born February 7th, 2013. He was a very difficult baby, not sleeping more than 30-90 minutes at a stretch until about 6 months of age, but has grown into a happy, easy-going, sweet toddler. He was a late walker and a bit of a late talker, but has taken off in recent months. His current obsession is with birds. We have a book of 250 North American birds and their songs, and he can identify probably 1/3 of them by picture or by call. He puts me and Tablespoon to shame, and rarely makes a mistake. As far as toddler fixations go, I’ll take this any day over more common ones like construction equipment or dinosaurs.

I finished my master’s degree at UW last spring, and last August we made the terrible decision to leave beautiful Seattle for southeast Idaho, so my husband could take a job at the Idaho National Laboratory. We found out shortly after arriving here that I was pregnant again, and our second son, 1/4t, is due in early-mid May. I’m doing the stay-at-home-mom thing at the moment, partly by choice and partly because there are no jobs in my field here. The one good thing about this town is its outrageously low cost of living, so living on one salary is not difficult. That said, we are trying to get out. Tablespoon is applying for faculty jobs as they come up, but of course that’s not very often. He’s waiting to hear back now about a position at the University of Montana in Missoula, which would be lovely, and has started working on an application for a position at North Carolina State University, which would be less lovely but probably better than here.

Life goes on. I’ve always been a bit of a malcontent, looking ever to the future, and I am guilty of that still with my complaints about where we are currently living. But overall, life has been and continues to be very good to me. We are all in good health, Tablespoon and I continue to have a strong and loving marriage despite the complication of children, and we have a wonderful child. We have a handful of dear friends who, although we are geographically far from them, will always be a part of our lives. We still have Winston, the world’s best dog, although we gave away our devil-cats during our son’s first year of life. I miss Seattle, and would rather be somewhere other than here, but I am trying harder to be grateful for the many wonderful things that I do have.

Biannual Update

•December 4, 2012 • 8 Comments

The big news since my last update is that Tablespoon and I are having a baby! As some of you may remember, I’ve wanted this for a long time, and it’s finally happening. I’m 32 weeks along now, and the baby boy (what’s a spoon that’s smaller than a teaspoon?) is due on January 30th. We are very excited, and perhaps just a wee bit terrified. IMG_1582


Annual Update

•March 18, 2012 • 5 Comments

Last August, Tablespoon and I packed up most of our belongings into a moving truck and our dog and musical instruments into the car and embarked on a long journey across America. We stopped the first night at his parents’ house in Tennessee, the next in a bed bug-infested Motel 6 in Iowa, the third at my oldest sister’s house in eastern South Dakota, and the next several in Rapid City, South Dakota, where my middle sister was getting married. Two more long days of driving, and we arrived in Seattle, our new home. Well, my new home. Tablespoon spent a few days with me, helping me unpack and get settled, and then hopped a plane back to Virginia to finish his PhD. Two and a half long months ensued, and then he defended his thesis and boarded a plane back to me again.

I am about to start my third quarter in graduate school at the University of Washington. I am in the School of Environment and Forest Sciences, in the sustainable forestry research group. My research is examining the water use of mature forest conifers in response to various environmental conditions. It’s not what I imagined myself studying in graduate school, but it’s interesting and I am enjoying it. My advisor and my classmates are wonderful, and I have little to complain about.

Tablespoon secured a job as a lignin chemist at a well-known company in the area, working on a project to create biofuels for jets. (It’s not the company you’re thinking of.) He’s really enjoying it, and we’re both enjoying his having a reliable income for the first time ever. (Mine, of course, decreased dramatically when I left my consulting job to go back to school.) Seattle seems to suit us well. Our house is in North Seattle, just a few blocks from Lake Washington, a small public park, and a bike trail. A bus passes by one block to the west, and drops me off right in front of my building on campus in the mornings. The weather is not quite as dreary as we were expecting it to; I think people everywhere like to complain about their weather, and Seattlites just complain the loudest.

I just got back yesterday from visiting my mother for a week. She has moved a lot since I graduated high school — Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, and as of November southern Idaho. It was lovely to see her and spend some solid, one on one time together, but I’m afraid she’s terribly lonely. It’s mostly self-induced, of course, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult to see.

Nature, red in fang and stinger.

•August 10, 2011 • 3 Comments

Out at the Top Secret Job Site yesterday, the Mad Scientist, who is very observant and thus a much better naturalist than I will ever be, spotted an altercation between a wasp and a wolf spider occurring in the leaf litter below us. A black wasp with red-tipped wings was chasing and harassing a fairly large wolf spider. The wasp was not huge, no bigger than the wasps you might wish weren’t hanging around the outside of your house in the summer. But the wolf spider, who is by habit a stealth hunter and does not typically engage in all-out battles, was ill-equipped to fend off her attack. He climbed the stem of a flower, and at first she seemed unable to find him, but she sniffed him out and knocked him from his perch. He tried to take shelter beneath some fallen wood, but she went in after him and scared him out.

We thought that if the spider got lucky, the tables would turn and he’d make a meal of her. But she knew better than to get too close to his impressive fangs, and eventually impaled him in the abdomen with her stinger. The venom took effect almost immediately, and he was paralyzed. She crawled away from him a few times, shaking her abdomen violently before returning to crawl around and around him. Eventually she flipped the spider, who must have weighed twice what she did, onto his back, and crawled around on him some more. Then she perched on top of him, depositing her egg(s) inside of him. Once that task was completed, she dragged the poor creature (and I am no spider lover) around some more, seemingly at random, before flipping him back upright and carefully positioning him exactly as she wanted him. Her life’s work completed, she bid adieu to her host and flew off. The spider will recover from the wasp’s venom fairly quickly, but her eggs will hatch within a few days, and the larvae will feed on the still-living body.

Happy Tuesday!

Dumpster Days

•August 8, 2011 • 2 Comments

Despite going to bed after midnight (in other words, well past bedtime for this grandma*) and falling asleep even later than that (thanks, Tablespoon’s PhD!), I did manage to stumble out of bed when the alarm went off at 6 this morning.

(Well over a year ago now, maybe closer to two years ago, I made a mix CD of Iron & Wine’s quietest, gentlest songs to replace NPR’s Morning Edition as our alarm sound. I’d grown tired of tales of war, famine, and recession getting mixed up in my morning dreams. And I must say, other than breakfast in bed at 10 a.m. on a Saturday, Iron & Wine is about the best possible way to greet the day.)

After letting the dogs out for their morning romp in the poison ivy and downing a gravely bowl of Grape Nuts, I headed to the office to meet the Mad Scientist at 7 for another day of playing in the dirt. As is our normal routine, we stopped at Shitz to buy enormous cups of bad coffee, mediocre sandwiches, and a bag of ice to keep our water bottles cold. I guess we were moving slowly this morning, since we didn’t arrive at our Top Secret Work Site until around 8:30, and resultantly we didn’t finish up the stream assessments today as planned. We did, however, get to have our eyes and sinuses blasted by the vast quantities of dust coming off the despicably-managed construction site, thanks to the high winds. The wind also wafted the lovely odors of rot and skunk musk towards us all day. It did keep us cooler than usual in the 90+ degree heat, so I really shouldn’t complain.

Mad Scientist doesn’t believe in anthropogenic climate change. He does, however, believe in Sasquatch. Since I’m preparing to leave these god-awful hot climes for the lovely Pacific Northwest this week, he briefed me on how to best go about sighting a Sasquatch, and we had a lively debate on the likelihood’s of its existence. He contends that we discover new species every day, so why is it so hard to believe that this particular one has eluded firm discovery? Clearly, in order to avoid us so well, it must be exceedingly intelligent for an ape, as well as exceedingly rare. I asked him why we hadn’t at least stumbled across the remains of a Sasquatch by now, and he conceded that was hard to explain. I suggested that he direct that question to the Virginia Sasquatch Watch, of which he is a card-carrying member.

I love my job.

*Don’t worry, my pets are all neutered or spayed, depending on their genders of origin, so I’m not really a grandma. I guess I should work on being a ma first, before adding the prefix.


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