something in the air

Something changed today. Fall is coming, it is in the air.
Not in a crisp Up North kind of way, at least not yet. Its still pretty balmy, but a change is in the air.

I first noticed this past weekend when I was out in the field. The last time I saw the prairie at the research station was April or May, and everything was new-green and lush, making a break for it. By now the sunflowers and big bluestem are towering over my head, and the colors have turned to purples, golds and browns.

The angle of the sun is noticeably different as well, casting more fallish-shaped shadows and filtering fallish light through just-turning leaves. I wonder what its going to be like to spend fall in a place dominated by oaks, rather than maples? No brilliant oranges and reds, just more subtle tans and browns. At least a pile of oak leaves still smells delicious.

Most exciting of all? Halloween candy has hit the shelves. Whoop!

Oh, Necco company, how I love your concoctions. Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses most of all.

(photo from Candy Blog -- check it out, its amazing)

UPDATE-- I would NOT recommend eating the entire bag of Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses in three days, no matter how delicious they taste.



I create my own stress. i know this.
spending 10 hours in my windowless office makes me crazy. i know this as well.
but sometimes i get so caught up in the pile of papers and the ever-growing to-do list that i find it hard to leave and do something else, fretting away until my brain melts and all i can do is sit on the couch and read blogs.

I am an ecologist! i study habitats. ecosystems. plants and animals and their interactions. I can learn some of this by readings papers, but once and while, it behooves me, and my sanity, to actually get outside and look at some damn trees. sheesh.

So, this weekend i went along to help out with an undergrad mammology field trip to my university's research station. We set about 150 live traps, hoping to catch a few species of mice, maybe some voles, and hopefully a flying squirrel! The result? Nada. But it was still great fun, tromping through the woods and prairie, getting sticks in my hair and burrs all over my clothes.

No pics of any fuzzy creatures, but I did see the largest box turtle that i've ever seen, and I felt much, much better for having fled the city for a few hours.

But, as a treat to you for hanging around this long, here's a pic from some mammal trapping that was going on the last time I was out in AZ. I was there to count plants, but the rodent folks were there at the same time.

puppy visitation

We went to visit Moxie this weekend. Cuteness ensued.

We will bring her home in a week! Until then I'm obsessed with puppy books. We have a few friends with pugs and bulldogs, and I'm definitely going to schedule small-dog play dates to socialize the puppy. Its going to be so cute you won't be able to stand it.



There are several really great, large parks in STL. Its one of my favorite things about this city. The largest one is Forest Park (500 acres larger than Central Park!). That's where you go when you want to go to the zoo (free), art museum (free), history museum (free), ice skating rink (free), science center (free, but still not worth it, according to A.) or Shakespeare in the Park (free, and definitely worth it). The park also has two golf courses, and a large riverine habitat restoration project (side-by-side, irony?).
We took our friends there when they came to visit from Brooklyn. Josh has decided that every city park should have a bowl, like that above the boat basin. I'd have to agree.

We are lucky enough to live just two blocks from Tower Grove Park. Its smaller than Forest Park, but I like it even better. Started by Henry Shaw in the 1860's, it still has cute pavilions scattered about, and a nice mix of fields for playing and groves of trees for meandering. A series of ponds in the center of the park have been planted with a variety of water lilies. One species has gigantic saucer-shaped leaves as wide across as a dining table. I want to float on one so badly and I think that if I were ever left there alone I just might try.

By a weird twist of mind-melding, Kitty Genius, an artist/blogger from STL also just posted about Forest Park. She actually has good pics of the boat basin. I've never met her, I just stalk her blog, b/c i love her pics of bearded men--they remind me of Maine for some reason, and of my friend Catherine--not because she's bearded, but because she has an of-another-era, salty, sea-faring, air about her.


if i had a real office

In a perfect world,
one in which I'm not crowded into an office with 15 other grad students,
I would have wall space.
And on that wall space I would hang something like this gem from the threepotatofour shop:

I have been longing for an old botanical pull-down chart for years.
I'd love some old classroom pull-down maps as well.

Maps, plants, dreaming about how I would decorate if I had money. This is my world.



After 5 years of hemming and hawing and raging puppy-fever, we're finally getting a Boston Terrier of our own. Just TRY and tell me that she is not the cutest thing you have ever seen.

We have to wait two more weeks until we can take her home, so in the mean time i'm watching this video over and over and looking at pics on flickr. Expect to be barraged with the cuteness for a while.


notes on an airplane napkin from a recent flight to Tucson

"Somewhere over West Texas...
Houses like track marks on the landscape
Irrigation traces compass circles.
Saline lake beds are drying scabs.
This land looks wounded."

And on the other side:
"When surrounded by nothingness, why are the dirt patches around these trailers square?
Recreating suburban landscapes we are taught to admire"

I remember listening to a radio program once--maybe This American Life?-- about how people get really emotional on planes. It involved an hilarious story about a businessman crying uncontrollably during an in-flight movie starring Reese Witherspoon. I feel this man's pain. I have been know to tear up while reading an article in the free magazines in the seat-back pocket. Apparently planes also give me a false sense of being profound, like when i wake up in the middle of the night and scribble something on a pad of paper and in the morning its just gibberish.



The Labor Day Par-tay went off without a hitch, not counting the blazing heat that had 30 people huddled in the last scrap of shade for a while, until the sun went behind a building. Phew, STL is still a-blazin'. 96 degrees or more today.

It was a great mix of people at this shin-dig. My favorite thing about having these get-togethers is taking people from the different parts of my life and throwing them all together in one room (yard) to see what happens. It really tells you a lot about people. Some of my favorite people have been rooted out this way-- I already had my suspicions that they were cool, then I stranded them with other friends they didn't know, and they all got along smashingly. Good peeps attract good peeps.
Sure, some folks are shy and reserved no matter what, and I don't fault them for that. Even my most reserved favorite-people can still be counted on to be chill and cordial and even a bit witty, even in the presence of strangers.
On the flip side, these events also expose the people who will only talk to their established friends and acquaintances. And while I understand that parties are a nice chance to catch up with people you know and haven't seen in a while, if you spend the entire time holed up with the same group of people that you go drinking with twice a week.... well, that's your loss, I guess. Because my friends are great, and really, you should get to know them.