morning light

10.22.18 ~ morning light ~ Chapel Hill, North Carolina

As a scientist I am indeed only an ant, insufficient and anonymous, but I am stronger than I look and part of something that is much bigger than I am. Together we are building something that will fill our grandchildren’s grandchildren with awe, and while building we consult daily the crude instructions provided by our grandfathers’ grandfathers. As a tiny, living part of the scientific collective, I’ve sat alone countless nights in the dark, burning my metal candle and watching a foreign world with an aching heart. Like anyone else who harbors precious secrets wrought from years of searching, I have longed for someone to tell.
~ Hope Jahren
(Lab Girl)

Reading Lab Girl by Hope Jahren was eye-opening for me. My father was a scientist and, like many children, I didn’t have much of a grasp on what he did all day. I knew he was researching chicken viruses in a lab at the university. Sometimes he would take my sister and me to work and I noticed all sorts of lab equipment, especially a special light he used to examine chicken embryos in their shells. I knew every couple of years he would be stressing about whether he would get funding for another couple of years. (He always did.) Once I tried to read his PhD thesis, but it was like trying to read a foreign language.

In this book Jahren, who studies plants, introduced me to the concept of curiosity-driven research. The scientist sets up and runs experiments to investigate whatever she happens to be wondering about. Any “real-world” applications of the results are not immediately apparent or sought. Collecting data is pure joy for her. She adds to the volume of scientific knowledge and leaves information for future scientists to make use of in their own research.

Now I get what my father was doing all those years! He may not have made any dazzling discoveries but he was an important ‘part of something that is much bigger than he was.’ Hope Jahren gives a very enlightening look into the everyday world of scientists, in words all of us will understand.

throwing away all of your possessions once a year

“Autumn in New England” by Maurice Prendergast

If you rake fallen leaves into a pile and then examine them, you will see that each one shows a consummately clean break at the same place near the base of the stem. The fall of leaves is highly choreographed: First the green pigments are pulled back behind the narrow row of cells marking the border between stem and branch. Then, on the mysteriously appointed day, this row of cells is dehydrated and becomes weak and brittle. The weight of the leaf is now sufficient to bend and snap it from the branch. It takes a tree only a week to discard its entire year’s work, cast off like a dress barely worn but too unfashionable for further use. Can you imagine throwing away all of your possessions once a year because you are secure in your expectation that you will be able to replace them in a matter of weeks? These brave trees lay all of their earthly treasures on the soil, where moth and rust doth immediately corrupt. They know better than all the saints and martyrs put together exactly how to store next year’s treasure in Heaven, where the heart shall be also.
~ Hope Jahren
(Lab Girl)

wood wide web

“Landscape with Stump” by Ivan Shishkin

But the most astonishing thing about trees is how social they are. The trees in a forest care for each other, sometimes even going so far as to nourish the stump of a felled tree for centuries after it was cut down by feeding it sugars and other nutrients, and so keeping it alive. Only some stumps are thus nourished. Perhaps they are the parents of the trees that make up the forest of today. A tree’s most important means of staying connected to other trees is a “wood wide web” of soil fungi that connects vegetation in an intimate network that allows the sharing of an enormous amount of information and goods. Scientific research aimed at understanding the astonishing abilities of this partnership between fungi and plant has only just begun.
~ Peter Wohlleben
(The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate ~ Discoveries from a Secret World)

spring blossoms

4.8.18 ~ Sandhills Horticultural Gardens, Pinehurst, North Carolina

Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day.
~ W. Earl Hall
(Always Look on the Bright Side: Celebrating Each Day to the Fullest)

4.8.18 ~ Sandhills Horticultural Gardens, Pinehurst, North Carolina
4.8.18 ~ Sandhills Horticultural Gardens, Pinehurst, North Carolina

April
Comes like an idiot, babbling, and strewing flowers.
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
(Selected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay)

4.8.18 ~ Sandhills Horticultural Gardens, Pinehurst, North Carolina

Blossoms will run away —
Cakes reign but a Day,
But Memory like Melody,
Is pink eternally —
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1614)

4.8.18 ~ Sandhills Horticultural Gardens, Pinehurst, North Carolina
4.8.18 ~ Sandhills Horticultural Gardens, Pinehurst, North Carolina

Spring comes on the World —
I sight the Aprils —
Hueless to me, until thou come
As, till the Bee
Blossoms stand negative,
Touched to Conditions
By a Hum —
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #999)

4.8.18 ~ Sandhills Horticultural Gardens, Pinehurst, North Carolina

A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown —
Who ponders this tremendous scene —
This whole Experiment of Green —
As if it were his own!
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1356)

4.8.18 ~ Sandhills Horticultural Gardens, Pinehurst, North Carolina

Beneath these fruit-tree boughs that shed
Their snow-white blossoms on my head,
With brightest sunshine round me spread
Of spring’s unclouded weather,
In this sequestered nook how sweet
To sit upon my orchard-seat!
And birds and flowers once more to greet,
My last year’s friends together.
~ William Wordsworth
(The Complete Poetical Works of William Wordsworth)

4.8.18 ~ Sandhills Horticultural Gardens, Pinehurst, North Carolina

Every spring is the only spring — a perpetual astonishment.
~ Ellis Peters
(Spring Meditations)

4.8.18 ~ Sandhills Horticultural Gardens, Pinehurst, North Carolina

new adventures

6.18.17 ~ Durham, North Carolina

Katherine still loves music. So, after dropping off her papa at the airport for a 2-week business trip to Ireland, her mama and I took her to a cool place in Durham called Notasium, a music-based indoor play space. The heat and humidity outside was unbearable the first week of my visit.

6.18.17 ~ Durham, North Carolina

Katherine ran and danced with joy. She loved pressing the buttons to hear music from different cultures (Mexico was her favorite) and then running over to the bouncy house to jump with her mom and look out the screen window. Then back to the Touch Notes and repeat.

6.18.17 ~ Durham, North Carolina

Katherine had agreed to the rule to wear socks in the play space, but after a while, since she prefers going barefoot, she decided to remove her socks. Her mother gently reminded her of the rule.

6.18.17 ~ Durham, North Carolina ~ waiting for mom to come out of the bouncy house

Then on to a giant slide. One is supposed to climb a giant guitar fret-board to get to the top of the slide!

6.18.17 ~ Durham, North Carolina
6.18.17 ~ Durham, North Carolina

Later, when we were looking over these pictures Katherine exclaimed, “My beautiful dress!” It is her favorite and she wore it quite often while I was visiting. 🙂 These were the only pictures I got during my two week stay. On the days when I had Katherine, while Larisa was at work, there was no way to pause and take pictures.

But they were delightfully happy hours. My heart melted when Katherine finally started calling me Grammy. And when she loved my (grass-fed beef, gluten-free) meatloaf and roasted baby potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts. (So I made it again the second week!) Most days we sported matching pony tails. 🙂

I also had a chance to visit with friends from high school living in the area, and family. Tim’s brother and his wife recently moved back from Germany to a place about an hour and a half away from Larisa & Dima. Fran and I had a good day taking Katherine to the Museum of Life & Science. It was a very busy, exhausting, but super lovely visit!

wind, sun, water ~ gifts

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“A Sunflower from Maggie” by Georgia O’Keeffe

The earth gives away for free the power of wind and sun and water, but instead we break open the earth to take fossil fuels. Had we taken only that which is given to us, had we reciprocated the gift, we would not have to fear our own atmosphere today.
~ Robin Wall Kimmerer
(Braiding Sweetgrass:
Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge & The Teachings of Plants
)

into the mist

hmmm… what have we here?

Last weekend we flew down to North Carolina to see the little one, and her parents, of course. 😉 A visit to the Museum of Life & Science in Durham proved to be a great adventure. The museum’s tag line is “know wonder.” We spent most of our visit at the “Into the Mist” outdoor exhibit because that’s where Katherine’s curiosity led her.

time to investigate the intermittent mist at closer range…

Activate push-button mist fields and watch as droplets of water suspended in air form clouds that hover over small valleys. How does humidity and wind impact your misty landscape? Take a one-of-a-kind stroll through this cooling landscape and watch as rainbows appear then disappear. Climb through tunnels, make sand sculptures, or just sit, cool off, and observe the beauty of mist, landforms, and rock.
~ Museum of Life & Science website

noticing how slippery the steps are…

Katherine is an observer. This little amphitheater/mist pit captured her attention. For a good while she studied carefully how the other children played until the mist stopped coming up from the ground and then how one of them would run up the stairs to push a button on top of a pole to make the mist appear again.

continuing her investigation…
still figuring things out…
watching another child press the button…
a new friend to play with on the sidelines…
but it must be more fun in the middle…
think I should try this, Grandpa?

When she finally decided to take the plunge she had a wonderful time and got thoroughly soaked in the mist.

cool!
oh this is fun!
taking note of a pine cone…
joy!
it’s so wet…
the little scientist explores…

After changing Katherine into dry clothes we all had lunch and then Grammy & Grandpa Tim got to take our little darling on the Ellerbe Creek Railway. She’s very interested in trains these days and there are a few more in the area we hope to ride on during our next visit. While on the train we passed the Hideaway Woods outdoor exhibit and will definitely have to check out the huge tree house playground. But we had all had enough excitement for one day and it was getting hotter as the day wore on. Hard to believe it was still February.

Draken Harald Hårfagre

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Mystic Seaport ~ Mystic, Connecticut

Over time, I have come to realize that our culture has made valuable contributions to our world heritage at large. For me, it’s important to turn the spotlight on these contributions, and not just the more recent ones, but also our fantastic contributions to craftsmanship and technology. Shipbuilding was the rocket science of the Viking era.
~ Sigurd Aase
(Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Expedition America 2016)

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Mystic Seaport ~ Mystic, Connecticut

10-8-16-0865On a gray, misty Saturday we went over to Mystic Seaport to see the Viking longship Draken Harald Hårfagre. Draken means dragon and Harald Hårfagre refers to Norwegian King Harald Fairhair. I didn’t get to see her sail into Mystic with her red silk sail because we had been in North Carolina visiting the little one. But much to my delight, the ship will be wintering here at the Seaport. She will be covered over, though. If I keep my eye on the newsletters from Mystic Seaport, a living history museum, I hope to catch her sailing away in the spring.

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10.8.16 ~ costumed Viking enthusiasts who were also waiting in line

Draken Harald Hårfagre is the end result of a daydream of the ship’s owner, Sigurd Aase. After our tour I bought a lovely souvenir guidebook, full of stunning pictures of the journey here from her home port in Haugesund, Norway. Stops were made at the Shetland Islands, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland and cities along the Saint Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes. Then it went through the New York State canals to the Hudson River and finally down the river to New York City and then Mystic.

The ship has a lovely website: Draken Harald Hårfagre

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre

It’s a big challenge to sail a ship of this old variety, and to prove that it is possible to sail a large open Viking ship across the seas.
~ Capt. Björn Ahlander
(Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Expedition America 2016)

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre
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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ notice the fika (coffee) “machine” near the entrance to the galley ~ our guide assured us that modern-day coffee was very important to the crew members!
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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ personal items were stored in these chests which fit in the deck of the ship ~ the lid becomes part of the deck itself ~ our guide explained that no part of the ship is water tight so they wrapped their belongings in plastic before putting them in these narrow chests
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10.8.16 ~ notice the little dinghy with a sail tethered to the longship
harald
“King Harald Fairhair” as portrayed by Peter Franzén on the History Channel’s television drama “Vikings”

And now for a pet peeve of mine. There were several visitors wearing “Viking” helmets with horns who were approached by other visitors asking them where they could get a helmet for themselves. Of course they weren’t for sale on the ship or at the museum gift shop! The guide book, if they cared to read it, debunks the myth of the horned helmet:

One of the most widespread myths in history is the one about the Vikings wearing horned helmets. Their helmets had no horns. The popular image dates back to the 1800s, when Scandinavian artists like Sweden’s Gustav Malmström included the headgear in the their portrayals of the raiders. When Wagner staged his Der Ring des Nibelungen, commonly refers to as the “Ring cycle” in the 1870s, costume designer Carl Emil Doepler created horned helmets for the Viking characters, and an enduring stereotype was born.
~ Draken Harald Hårfagre guidebook ~ Expedition America 2016

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10.8.16 ~ Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Mystic Seaport ~ Mystic, Connecticut

The line to tour the ship, which only took a few minutes, was very long and stretched around other exhibits at the Seaport. Fortunately we were near the beginning and were marveling at how long the line still was two hours later. In spite of the rain!

The Gokstad ship we saw in Norway last year was one of the inspirational sources for the design of this ship: Viking Ship Museum.

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This is a fantastic opportunity to create history by reliving the challenges our Viking ancestors overcame. An adventure one wouldn’t miss for the world. It is thrilling to bring the Sagas to life and do something a little crazy and down to earth at the same time.
~ Arild Nilsen
(Draken Harald Hårfagre ~ Expedition America 2016)