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Earth Day Resolutions

Happy post-Earth Day loved ones!  I hope that you got to stroll outside, even if just for a moment.  I didn’t really, but I took a long walk today and did a little bit of Earth Day reflection.  In the last year, I’ve made a few sustainable (“green” if you will) resolutions, and they have been going really well!  I would like to challenge my friends to:

A) Try one of my resolutions from last year or this year AND/OR

B) Return with a challenge for me this year. 

I want to share mine, because I feel many things I proposed to myself last year, seemed like really intense and none of them actually were, and all the things I do to be “green” usually save me money!  Plus, it makes you quirky, which is a good thing…or so I’ve been told…  J

Last year’s resolutions:

1) Reuse more:  I had a goal of reusing every plastic bag that came through my house at least once.  I didn’t reach that goal, but I really improved.  I refuse to throw away grocery bags, I always find a use for them.  I keep bread bags around for when I scoop kitty litter (ew).  I wash out sandwich bags after I use them and use them again.  I also started saving all the glass containers I bought, but some of those are hard to wash out so I don’t want to put food back in them.  Any suggestions?

2) Use less paper:  I have a big scrap paper folder in my kitchen.  I use it for everything.  It rocks. 

3) Don’t use the dryer:  This one is so hard for lots of people, but once you get used to it, it’s not that big of a deal.  I have a huge clothes drying rack.  I still use the dryer when I wash my bed sheets because I cannot hang them effectively, or if I get way behind on the wash.  Use fabric softener, otherwise you won’t like it.  Even if you don’t want to stop using the dryer, if you try to use it only every other load, that would still save a ton of electricity. 

A super unofficial web reference, but I’ve read this fact several times.  Feel free to myth bust! 

“The two most energy-consuming home appliances are the refrigerator and the clothes dryer. The refrigerator is always on although it consumes the most energy when the compressor cycles on to maintain the proper temperatures. Clothes dryers do not remain on, but when they are in use they consume a lot of energy. Though energy costs and types vary by location and type of dryer, the typical clothes dryer averages $85.00 US Dollars (USD) annually to operate.”

2010-2011:

1) Make more, buy less.  By earth day next year, I want to be a bread baker extraordinaire. 

2) Buy ethical eggs.  I love eggs, but I’m going to eat less of them because I want to buy cage free (at the least) eggs.  I watched Food Inc.  Too real.

3) Buy local.  I grew up on a farm with a mother who grew a ton of veggies that the family feasted upon.  Surprisingly, the Farmer’s Market is new to me, and I’d never actually been before two Sunday’s ago!  I’m in love with the way the food tastes (amazing) and the knowledge that my money is going to a person.

Hope that you are all well and happy! 

  “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors: we borrow it from our children.”
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Well some good and some bad.

Bad first.  No NSF and no Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship.  So that means that my chances of major, big, make my life really easy funding are out for this year.  But, I still have one small grant out and I’m going to be sending another one on the 23rd.  So, the quest for funding continues…which is the theme of my chosen career path.  Thus, I’m just toughening up and getting used to it. 

 Good now!  I had a wonderful spring break with Dr. Meridith Bartley.  We had numerous adventures (bottomless mimosas, hanging out on the beach, watching hockey, going to the zoo).  For my actual spring break, we headed out to Joshua Tree National Park which was so amazing!  We hiked in two different deserts and saw the San Andres Fault! 

 

That’s the fault, the bump out there in that valley.  It was so cool!

 Another thing about which I am very excited:  I get to go to NFA this weekend!  I will be hanging out with all my old speech friends from other schools, PLUS all the seniors from last year on WKU’s team will be there.  I’m so excited to see those cats. 

Can’t really write much today.  As always, I’m very busy.  I hope all is well in your world. 

Mad love and Respect.

            Shew, finally, a moment to breath.  Things have been super fast paced around here sense Em left.  I was playing a little bit of catch up, and then things just kept on coming. 

            I turned in the first draft of my proposal for a class assignment, then asked that professor (Dr. Lowe) to be on my thesis committee.  He said yes, but I’m not sure he’s read my proposal yet.  He read an outline that I turned in before, so he knows what the project is about and such.  I also asked the resident entomologist to be on the committee and she just said yes a few moments ago.  I’m official it seems.  It was almost like asking someone out on a date, I was totally afraid one of them was going to tell me he didn’t have time or that my project design was crazy and I needed to start all over again.  That second one was the real fear I suppose.  However, things are coming together!  I feel so official and gradstudenty.

            I also applied for another fellowship shortly after Emily left.  The Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program (http://fosterscholars.noaa.gov/) supports underrepresented groups (women and minorities) who want to work in the marine sciences.  It was super stressful getting everything in on time, but my sister totally came through for me by sending my transcripts from WKU.  I actually couldn’t believe they released my official transcripts to someone who wasn’t me, but I sent them a fax authorizing it….so I guess it’s not too sketchy. 

            Tomorrow, I’m turning in my application for the CSULB Graduate Research Fellowship.  It’s obviously not as swank as the deal Nancy would give me, but it’s about $4,500 a semester, so that would be very helpful.  There is only one Fellowship awarded for each college.  I’m hopeful about it.  I feel my essays are pretty strong. 

            AND, I should find out about the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship that I applied for in November any day now…

            So, if you are sending positive vibes toward this lil’ struggling biologist visualize this:

On April 1st, I get out of my bed and stretch feeling all warm and well rested.  I go and put some water on for the tea.  My kitty meows at me so I feed him and pat his head.  The California sun is shining so nicely outside.  I got up on time this morning, so I have a few minutes to check my email before I catch the bus.  I take a drink of tasty tea and put some toast in the toaster oven.  I open my email and see an official looking message from the NSF Committee.  No, it’s not an April fool’s joke, they want to pay me to live my little biologist dreams!  I get funded!  Horray.

So, if you get the time, meditate on that. 

            In other, wonderful news MERIDITH BARTLEY is coming to California today!  I could not be more excited to see that beautiful face.  I cleaned my room, and I’m going to give my kitty an anti-allergy bath.  I hope that helps.  We are going to go on a grand camping adventure over CSULB spring break, and also have a trip planed with D Lo to go to the zoo in San Diego.  I’m super pumped!  I missed her so.  Also, Sara and Stephen bought plane tickets to come see me in May.  I love visits…so happy!

            I’ve been reading a ton of Wendell Berry lately, and I read this one on the way back from Nor Cal on Sunday.  It spoke to my heart.

Kitten in a basket!

The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer

By Wendell Berry

I am done with apologies. If contrariness is my
inheritance and destiny, so be it. If it is my mission
to go in at exits and come out at entrances, so be it.
I have planted by the stars in defiance of the experts,
and tilled somewhat by incantation and by singing,
and reaped, as I knew, by luck and Heaven’s favor,
in spite of the best advice. If I have been caught
so often laughing at funerals, that was because
I knew the dead were already slipping away,
Preparing a comeback, and can I help it?…
“Dance,” they told me,
and I stood still, and while they stood
quiet in line at the gate of the Kingdom, I danced.
“Pray,” they said, and I laughed, covering myself
in the earth’s brightnesses, and then stole off gray
into the midst of a revel, and prayed like an orphan.
When they said, “I know my Redeemer liveth,”
I told them, “He’s dead.” And when they told me
“God is dead,” I answered, “He goes fishing ever day
in the Kentucky River. I see Him often.”
When they asked me to join them I wouldn’t,
and then went off by myself and did more
than they would have asked. “Well, then,” they said
“go and organize the International Brotherhood
of Contraries,” and I said, “Did you finish killing
everybody who was against peace?” So be it.
Going against men, I have heard at times a deep harmony
thrumming in the mixture, and when they ask me what
I say I don’t know. It is not the only or the easiest
way to come to the truth. It is one way.

Me by the cliffs before Plant Ecology Lab last Thursday

Well, this is going to be one of those weeks.  I have a midterm in Plant Ecology on Thursday (the class I have with my thesis advisor, Christine) and the first draft of my proposal due on Wednesday.  I think it’s all going to work out, but it will result in little sleep!  I’m looking forward to a blissful Thursday evening.

Cactus about to bloom

On an awesome note, Emily Martin came to visit me this past weekend.  Her sister and brother-in-law live in Santa Monica, so she flew into LAX and played with me for a few days.  We had a great time hanging out and just catching up.  Our birthday tradition (we are both born in February) is to take each other shopping and pick out our own gifts.  It’s pretty fun, and a nice way to spend time with one another.  On Friday, we went to a 40% off sale at the Salvation Army.  We got a big bag of clothes for 30 dollars.  We added it up and, per item, we spent about $1.50.  Not bad at all.  I bought a sweater of which I know Sara will be proud.  It’s brown with leaves embroidered all over it.  I was wearing it about, until I realized it still smelled like old lady.  I’ve washed it, and look forward to debuting it soon!

 On Saturday, we went for a hike at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park (http://www.ocparks.com/LagunaCoast/).  It was so beautiful and fun.  Here are some pictures of the costal sage scrub which is typical of the habitat in that area.  Coastal sage scrub is a super endangered habitat, and I had just learned about it in class, so that was pretty cool as well.  The bush sunflower (California Enchelia) were out and looking wonderful, though most of the California poppies had closed up.  That night, we skyped with Rebeakh and chatted for over an hour.  It was so fun to get caught up on one another’s lives.  High school was a bit ago, I really like that I am still friends with these two girls!

Em and I at Laguna Coast

On Sunday, I took Emily up to meet her mom, brother, sister, and brother-in-law.  We went to mass, then they wanted me to come out to lunch with them, but they were going to a diner (featured on the Food Network) that featured a maple doughnut sprinkled in bacon.  I passed.  I drove on back to Long Beach and Daniel and I went on a date.  It was super nice.  We went to a family style Italian restaurant, drank some wine, then watched Crazy Heart.  Obviously, as Jeff Bridges just won the Oscar for best actor, I highly recommend this film.  Especially if you like country music.  Mom and Dad, you really must see this film.  It’s wonderful.

Well, enough thinking about all the fun I had this weekend, I need to get back to studying Plant Ecology.  I feel bad, I don’t think I’ll have time to look at any of the speeches I told WKY people I would glance at.  I’m going to try, but it’s not looking good.  However, trying to be a big kid biologist requires some sacrifice I suppose.

Bush Sunflower from a park I visited with my Plant Ecology class last Thursday

Quick friend shout out.  I’ve added Meridith to my vision board.  It’s a picture of she and I playing in the leaves outside Thompson North with the caption, “This girl will kick butt in the fall.”  Feel free to lend your good vibes to the cause.  Also, Corn is being a Texas Teaching Fellow BALLER.  That is all.

Love to all.

My Vision Board

I’ve been given a lot to think about as of late.  I’ve been working really hard on my thesis proposal, but things keep changing.  I must have a detailed outline of my proposed research written, presented, and defended (to the satisfaction of my thesis committee) by the end of this semester, or I’m out of the graduate program at Cal State Long Beach.  While I have total confidence I can get it done, there are a few things that worry me. 

For example, last week was really tough.  I’m planning to examine the impacts of an invasive perennial pepperweed (Lepidium latifolium) on the songbird community in Rush Ranch Open Space Preserve.  The thing is, I’ve never really worked with birds before and the learning curve is huge.  I’ve just been feeling lately like, no matter how much I read and work, I’m never going to know enough to do this work well.  So, last Thursday, I had a chat with one of my collaborators (aka: the awesome bird lady), who basically tells me there is no way that I can do what I want on the time budget I proposed.  So, this week, I’ve been working on retooling almost the entirety of the methods section of my proposal.  In reality, these changes are not huge, I just had to change the way I was thinking about the project.  Sometimes, making those mental shifts is hard.  At the time, I just had that rock in the stomach feeling that my project was going to flop.  I’m back on the positivity train now, no worries.  If you need reason to not pity me at all, here is a picture of Rush Ranch. I’m going to start calling it “my office.”

The salt marsh during a super high tide

Rush Ranch’s Website:  http://www.solanolandtrust.org/a_e_rushRanch.php

Stress of any sort usually prompts me to do a ton of life thinking.  Not that thinking into the future usually makes me unstressed, but it’s just what I do.  Today, as an act of “get it together” fueled by a desire to put off working on the proposal more, I made my first Vision Board.  For those who perhaps don’t know, a vision board helps you focus your mental energy, bringing good things into your life.  Like positive self-fulfilling prophecy.  I divided the board into “Short Term” and “Long Term.”  The idea is to hang the board somewhere you will see it everyday (in my case, the living room), so you are constantly focused on the things you want.  I tried to make mine a healthy mix of things.  Here are some pictures!

I will look at it everyday. The only thing it is missing is a picture of a GREYHOUND!

Ms. Adventure

I’ve been toying with the idea of a blog for some time now.  What was really holding me back was thinking that no one would want to read about my day-to-day doings, but I know that at least one lady out there does.  Thus, I dedicate this blog and all its potential silliness to my mother, Juanita Wigginton.

My mother and I (Thanksgiving 2009)