Monday, November 23, 2009

Botany Joke of the Day

I offered my Plant Biology students a rare opportunity - extra-credit for botany related jokes. Some of the students pursued this with gusto, and so I have a nice list of botany jokes. Not all good, but still fun.

Why are plant capable of consuming cars?
Because they are auto-trophic.

And just for fun, a cactus from Puerto Rico (Melocactus intortus) from Guanica dry forest on the south part of the island, which was my favorite part of the trip.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Relaxing Saturday

Steve and I had a great day yesterday.

We went for an early morning walk . . . really early, like 5 am.

Did some shopping for the upcoming birthday/holiday season. Got my nephew a book about
Knights and Castles for his Birthday.

I knit while watching "Arsenic and Old Lace" - if you haven't seen it, you should.

I knit some more later while watching football. The football was on more for the background noise.

We went on a short bike-ride.

Also went to the Habitat for Humanity Restore, just to check it out. We found a beautiful piece of granite, but since we have no clue what we would do with it, we left it there.

Cooked dinner together, which was a lot of fun.

Went out to the Plaza, where he bought me a new knitting book as an early birthday present.
"Knitting New Mittens and Gloves" by Robin Melanson.

He has some big plans for my birthday on Tuesday - I am really excited to see what he has come up with.

Snapshot of Puerto Rico Part 2: Unknown Red Flowers

One of my goals while in Puerto Rico was to learn some of the flora.

I have never felt so over my head. I have never been botanizing in the tropics. I did mess up by forgetting important field equipment . . . oh how I longed for my hand lens. The books available to me left a lot to be desired. Sure I had the 5 volume Flora of Puerto Rico to key out plants. This book, however, did not have a family key. No family key????? I was completely lost, and felt completely spoiled by "Flora of Missouri". The families you find in the tropics are completely different than what you commonly find in Missouri. Very few mints, roses, scrophs, milkweeds, asters, or buttercups. Lots of Melastomaceae and Lauraceae (which we do have here, but not a family I am overly familiar with). I have been able to work through some of the plants that I found, but there are still a lot that I have no clue.

So here are some of those plants that I took photo of, but still don't know what they are.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Snapshots of Puerto Rico: Part 1 The Canopy Walk

This August I spent two weeks traveling around Puerto Rico with my friend and colleague, P., who has conducted research at El Yunque National Forest for about 10 years. My hope is to get involved with research on Puerto Rico and take students down. P. was a great tour guide through the different habitats found in Puerto Rico.

It was an amazing trip and between us, we took over 300 photos a day. I have decided to share this trip as a series of snapshots of some of my favorite photos and experiences. Not the detailed travelogue I had originally envisioned, but hopefully you will enjoy it nonetheless.

On the first full day wandering around the jungle, we visited the canopy walk at El Yunque National Forest. It part of the El Verde Field Station, which is not open to the public. I don't remember how high up we were. Hope you aren't afraid of heights!

The view from the canopy walk.

ooking down on top of a palm tree.
Another view looking down showing the rigging we climbed up.

P. at the other end of the walk.

The little Anolis who is eating the termites that hitched a ride on P's backpack.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Long Time No See

Been looking back over my blog, and I love being reminded of things I had forgotten about. For example, this post on snowman diversity. Or this one.

As such, I have decided I need to put time back into my blog, for myself, though I hope my friends and family will return to reading this blog and hopefully enjoy it.

So, what do I have to say for myself today. Not much it turns out, or perhaps to much to recap. I am viewing this post as starting new. There is no way I can recap everything that has happened since, what, June. So, I am not even going to try.

One fun thing this week - we completed the natural dye lab for my plant biology class. We used three dyestuffs: madder root, brazilwood, and logwood.

Here are all the yarns together - the brazilwood gave the pinkish colors, logwood the dark purples, and madder the orangish tones. I am looking forward to knitting this all up.

Monday, May 25, 2009

House Photos

As some of my friends and family are aware, we are in the process of purchasing a house in the town where I work. I am incredibly excited about not having a 20+ minute drive each way to and from work. Despite the worries about being an owner instead of a renter (i.e. having to deal with the tree in you living room at 3 am yourself), I am also looking forward to having a house that is mine. To paint, to plant, to whatever however I want. Well, I will have to take Steve's tastes into account.

We have passed all the major foreseeable roadblocks (pre-approval, inspection, appraisal), and so I feel secure in posting pictures of the house here. We close on June 19th. By the way, where did May go to?

Anyway, here are the pictures.

The front door - Steve loves the "atomic" style of the 1950's and 60's, so he was really excited about this detail of the front screen door.

There is also a great shed in the back, built by the previous owner. It has electricity. In my dreamworld it becomes a dye-studio with electricity provided by wind or solar. I want to put a window or two in the side (Steve is unaware of this). It is painted to match the house and the inspector was really impressed with its quality.

In fact, overall the house is in really good shape.
The kitchen - love the wood cabinets, all appliances are staying. Hooray!

Most of the other rooms are pretty unremarkable - nice wood floors, white walls. All decent size. There are three bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms. The dining area is small. Also, all the windows are new energy-effecient, easy-to-clean windows. After living in the draftiest house in Independence, this will be wonderful. Seriously, in the winter their is a breeze from our bedroom window strong enough to ruffle your hair. We kept our heat 0n around 62-65 all winter to prevent wasting too much energy. So not only should we see a major savings on gasoline, but on energy costs as well.

Another aspect of the house we love is the basement - I see great potential here.
The basement

Love the fireplace, the finished portion is about 2/3 the width of the house and runs its entire length. Oh - and that is not paint on the walls but some kind of ??? acoustical fabric, carpet? It sounds weird, but it looks pretty cool. I really want to turn this into a multi-use party spot. One area for dining, another for sitting.

The other really nice thing about this house is the neighborhood. We actually saw some houses I personally liked better, but the neighborhoods were not as nice. We will be in walking distance of grocery, post-office, library, and community center. There is also a greenways trail down the road. I think it will be too far to walk to school, but I will try it just once to see. Biking may be an option. But driving will only take me about 7 minutes, shorter if I find a way that does not involve so many stoplights.

So - hopefully this time next month we will be moved in!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Handspun Hats

I have not been documenting my knitting as well as I should - which is sad really, as I enjoy looking back on my past creativity.

That in mind, I present today two hats knit entirely out of handspun wool.

Handspun #1 - In addition to being handspun, all of the yarn in this hat is either naturally colored wool or hand dyed with plant dyes, with one exception. That exception is the lovely coppery orange that makes up the ribbing. The purples and yellow were dyed with annatto and logwood by my Plant Bio class last spring. I love the way this hat turned out and can't wait to wear it next year. I might have to make some coordinating mittens.

Handspun Hat #2 - This hat started with a special button for a friend who collects glass. I bought this button at SOAR several years ago. I had thought I would make her a sweater, but that has not happened.
Then one day, I noticed how great it looked with some blue handspun I had. Then I saw the cover of the book Boutique Knits and knew it would be perfect.

I love this hat. I am excited to give it to my friend. I may make one for myself (sans button), but the ruffled hat band was boring to knit. I also don't know if I have enough of my blue handspun to knit another one. Oh well.

My knitting has been a bit slowed this past school year, I hope to pick up the pace this summer. I have a couple of pairs of socks on the needles right now. A shawl from last summer that needs finishing. And suddenly many of my friends are having babies. So there will be lots of baby knitting in my future.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A day at the prairie

Yesterday my husband and I went visiting a couple prairies in central Missouri. It was great weather - perfect for being out in the field, though the sun was a bit bright for photos.

Here are some of the plants that we saw:

Dodecatheon meadia (Shooting Star)

Castilleja coccinea (Indian Paintbrush)

Lobelia spicata (Spiked Lobelia)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

In addition to the ugly socks (which are probably destined for the frog pond), I have been knitting on successful projects.

Some fingerless gloves: my husband calls them hobo gloves. The pattern is Berry Hill, which I found through Ravelry. Both yarns are left-overs from other projects. The tan is alpaca and the slate blue is Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport. I am very happy with this color combination.

Next up are some socks, now finished, made from Tofutsies sock yarn I bought when I was botanizing in New Mexico a couple of summers ago. The yarn is made with soy fiber, wool, and chitin. The chitin is supposed to provide antibacterial protection. The colors pool on the leg, which is not really visible in this picture. I like the yarn, I am less happy with the pooling. This is the third pattern I tried with this yarn. Overall, I am pleased with the results.

Finally a pair of socks made with yarn I got for my birthday. If I remember correctly, the yarn is from Pagewood Farms. The pattern is called scrolls, and it is from the book, Knitting More Sensational Socks, I recieved for Christmas.

Currently I am working on another pair of socks: Blackrose from knitty. They are being knit in a rusty red sock yarn.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ugly or Cool

I can't decide if I like these socks for their funky color combination or if they are just hideously ugly. What do you think?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The secret hats

In the last post before my prolonged hiatus, I mentioned a couple of secret hats I was working on. The hats have long since been delivered to their new homes and I want to share them here.
The idea came from CosyMakes - she started a word-along on Ravelry. The basic idea was to knit a hat and to embroider a word on it that was an action. So I chose to create two "Think Caps" for two of my friends who are professors at different universities. I know sometimes I need a "thinking" cap.

So I present
Think 1

and Think 2

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Still hanging on

Blue Sage (Salvia azurea) - a reminder of warmer days.

It has been a while since I have updated. First, I was preparing for classes. Then, I got caught up in the elections, then the holidays, now school has started again and I have been busy, busy, busy. I have seen three beautiful sunrises from my office window the last week, an indication of how busy.

I am stating here my intention to get back into blogging, as I like having this recording of my thoughts and I enjoy sharing these thoughts with my friends and family.

We will see how it goes. Off to prepare for class, but I will offer a more, satisfying post soon.