Friday, August 28, 2009


Krameria ixine

When I first saw this shrub in Guanica, I was struck with how beautiful it was; I had no idea how interesting the ecology would turn out to be.

I love the unusual color of these flowers. It is a rich maroonish-pink, with a silvery sheen that gives the flowers a velvety appearance. That silver sheen continues onto the vegetation.

Upon closer investigation of the floral structure, I saw these three petaloid appendages, which I first took to be modified anthers (I had foolishly left my hand lens at home and did not have a microscope available with me at this stage of the trip. These things make a big difference). I really did not have a clue as to what family this plant belonged in. Those of you familiar with the flora of the western US, may recognize some of the characteristics of this plant, as there are Krameria sp. throughout the western US.

It turns out that Krameria is the only genus in the family Krameriaceae, and there are only apporximately 19 - 25 species in that genus. So not a family you learn in a botany class in Missouri.

What about the cool ecology? Two things have peaked my interest.
(1) These plants are hemiparasitic.
(2) Those petaloid structures aren't modified anthers, but modified petals that are called elaiophores. Elaiophores contain oil-secreting glands that produce oil as rewards for pollinators. (I just found all of this out yesterday, and I am pretty jazzed about it). I haven't found out much yet, like - what are the bees using the oil for. Other species of are pollinated by Centris bees. I found one vague reference to these bees using the oil to provision their nests. Are any of our resident bee experts familiar with this genus of bees?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cool Puerto Rican Plants - Jatropha gossypiifolia

One of my favorite plants from Puerto Rico was Jatropha gossypiifolia (also known as bellyache bush). I haven't done much research into it, but a quick search tells me this plant is in the Euphorbiaceae and is being investigated for use as a biofuel. Apparently the seeds are rich in oil. While native to Puerto Rico, J. gossypiifolia is invasive to Australia, and there are some studies done there looking at the effects of fire on this plant. I am not sure why it is called belly-ache bush, but there must be some nasty chemicals found in this plant.

What is so cool about J. gossypiifolia?
Look at the trichomes on the nodes of the stems. Craaaazy. Not sure what is in these glandular hairs, but they do make the plant sticky.

It also has these beautiful little red flowers.

And - the seeds are awesome, it appears that they have explosive seed dispersal (one of the fruits exploded while I was trying to ID other plants) and eliasomes for ant secondary dispersal. Eliasomes are fatty bodies produced by some seeds to encourage ants to carry them away.

I found this plant in the dry forest of Guanica, in the southern part of the island. Guanica was my favorite forest we visited.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ladies, check your nipples

So, having done it once, I am now an expert on giving birth. :-)

Anyway, the first piece of advice I have that might do someone some good is to find out in advance if you have flat nipples. Having spent a good portion of my time worrying about my nipples showing through when I teach, I had absolutely no idea that they were flat until after Dianthus* had arrived and was trying ineffectively to drink from them.

Secondly, if you are planning on breastfeeding, make sure that ALL of the nurses, particularly the night nurses, know and understand that you do not want your baby fed anything else and that you need help (particularly if you are still attached to IVs) getting the baby breast fed. This may not be a big deal at birthing centers or more progressive hospitals, but at a small hospital in WV where most patients are on medicaid and don't end up breast feeding, the night nurses are all to happy to feed and play with the babies while letting new moms sleep.

Third, if you think that you want to have a "natural" delivery (especially if on pitocin) I suggest having a better plan with your partner than just trying relaxation from yoga. It apparently worked in my case, but somehow doesn't seem like fully adequate planning.

Finally, if you somehow manage to find a nursing bra that is simultaneously cotton, supportive, non-underwire and comfortable, buy a bunch. If it happens to come in a 42F, let me know.

I'm not suggesting that I wouldn't have spent some part of every day for the last three weeks crying if I had done all of this, or that I would have gotten any more sleep, but I likely wouldn't have stressed as much about my baby not gaining enough weight or whined about my boobs quite so much. Both would have been good things.

*From the common name for Dianthus barbatus.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Finally here are photos! I learned not to make shower games complicated at all even if the group consists of very educated women. And that I prefer a whacky mom over a picky mom.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Decor style: Nouveau Box!

So we arrived in Thousand Oaks about two weeks ago and our stuff arrived in our house yesterday. Somehow yesterday was the first time it hit me just what moving into a place 1/2 the size of your old one really means. Anyone want some books or furniture??

The kitchen and bedroom are fairly functional, and we've only been putting 'baby stuff' in the baby's room, so that's not too bad. The rest of the house is a jungle of boxes that looks more like the warehouse from hell than anywhere you'd like to actually spend time! Sheesh!! I'd love to post pictures but I have NO IDEA where the camera is! This is AFTER the helpful movers agreed to take two desks, two bookshelves, a recliner, and a large suitcase off our hands! And we did get rid of a lot of stuff before leaving Tucson! I'm impressed and jealous of the cat's ability to power sleep through it all! The other series of pics I'd love to post is her position and location on the bed hourly throughout the day!

OK, I'm going to wear out my exclamation point key...

TO does have a nice climate and we're right next to a large park with hiking trails. Come visit if you dare.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Between a rock and a hard place?

After months of not posting despite several life changes, for the moment I'm going to gloss right over those changes and skip right to the potential new one. Several days ago I got a surprise job offer from an organization I really respect. I'm excited about the prospect and saddened at the same time. Several months ago Tim got a job in the beer capital of the US and I came with him. Unfortunately since then my confidence has slowly been seeping away, and I think this new offer in part seems more exciting because I've been so discouraged and unsure of where I belong. But my offer would necessitate a move to another city eight hours away, and although I wouldn't need to make the move for ~6 months, Tim and I would still be separated for some time. I like living in the same place as him, and remember struggling in the past when I did not.

I would really appreciate hearing from you how you go about making difficult decisions.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Krazy KGS

Hey Kansas folks, did you hear this on NPR this morning? This is what's been up at the KGS the past few days. I can say I was actually glad I had the stomach flu and missed all of the excitement. Sheesh. Some people are just nutters. It's been like Alcatraz over here and we all get to go to a variety of safety and preventing workplace violence seminars.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Plumber poem

Liz made this up about me waiting for the plumber all morning and then getting irrationally miffed about a shower suggestion.

Little Miss Feeling Beastly
Sat on her keestly
Waiting for the plumber all day.
Then one more silly demand
Made her hop up and say
Enough! I am done! No whey!

Follow up the next day (by Liz) see the comments to follow the story:

Plumbing hell

The shady after-hours plumber

Took away Debbie’s john

And made an infernal racket

Until the break of dawn.

The plumber was on his knees

All covered in sweat and tears

Finally gave up and left, no charge,

Leaving Debbie with just her fears.

Then out from the pipe popped Beelzebub.

Completely covered in poo

He left a big invoice, covered in filth,

And said “the joke’s on you!”

So Debbie made a call or two

And finally realized this: it

Is better to choose the devil you know

When you’re dealing with horrible sh*t!


Floyd's! He'll move your toilet!

Floyd's! Won't let anything spoil't.

In 25 minutes, he's got it all cleaned out.

Only 105 dollars, let the people shout!

For Floyd's!