Goose, Goose, Duck!

It’s been ages since I last posted.  Spring has finally arrived in Madison.  In addition to the beautiful flowering trees and carpets of lilies and tulips, spring has also brought the return of the Canada geese.  The geese are busy raising gaggles of little goslings.  The sheer number of  goslings is staggering.  Each pair of parents I see has at least 10 little fuzzy chicks, and many have over 15.  I counted one pair with 17 chicks!  Of course, I’ve also seen quite a few hawks enjoying a fresh goose lunch.  Canada geese are pests – there’s no way around that.  They chew up lawns and poop everywhere when they aren’t wandering stubbornly into traffic.  They stand around on the bike paths and prevent anyone from going by and they’ve been known to attack folks who get too close.  So, like many towns, the “kill all the geese” factions here are at war with the “we WUV the cute widdle geese” factions.  There are families out by the lakes feeding bread to the geese while neighboring families are campaigning for the city to take more lethal action against them (the geese, not the bread-feeders).  This gets back to the questions of what do we conserve and why do we conserve it?  Canada geese have moved into a niche that we have created for them (open, grassy shorelines).  They are (I assume – I’m not too up on our local lake ecology) displacing other creatures that would live there.  Do we not conserve them because they are pests?  Because they are upsetting the “natural order” of the “appropriate” species for manicured parks?  Or are the parks themselves unnatural?  Do we kill animals just because they are annoying?  Do we kill them to promote a different idea of what “should” be there?  Do we save them because of our respect for living things?  Do we save them because they are so cute in their little tuxedos?  I have no answers.  I wish they’d stay off the bike paths and institute some family planning, but those seem unlikely in the foreseeable future.

My research is having its ups and downs as usual.  In good news, my samples are weighed out and ready to start my first fermentation trial.  The bad news is I couldn’t get them dried fast enough this week to do my first run today, so now they have to wait until next Thursday.  I’m itching to have actual data, with real NUMBERS.  4 years gone and I have almost no data to show for it – just bags and bags of samples cluttering up my office and lab.  Fortunately, my lab and office mates have been polite about living with bags of monkey food and monkey poop (dried and sealed in baggies, but still).  Of course, one officemate did disappear to California for the summer, but she was polite and said it was for “field work”.

My current plan, since I know you all are wondering, is to finish my lab work here this summer, then put my stuff in storage here somewhere and take the cats and myself down to Marian’s for a retreat/writing time.  The caveats to this are that I need to finish all my lab work this summer and the remaining time for that that is getting smaller and smaller.  This latest delay just makes it even harder for me to get done on time, although I think I still can if I don’t have any more big delays.  If I’m not done in time, I’m hoping I can go down to TN, drop off the cats, and then couch-surf back here for a few weeks while I finish up the last bits of lab work.  If I am really behind, maybe I’ll find a month-to-month sublet or something.  I don’t have a job anywhere yet, but I’ve got this part-time editing job that I could spend more time on and get paid enough to live on. If all goes well, I’ll write up in the fall and defend in November or December.

I hate shopping and I hate clothes shopping in particular, so it was a low moment last week when I realized I needed to buy something fancy for formal dinners on a cruise with my family next month.  I therefore summoned my best will and marched over to my only favorite boutique – St. Vincent du Paul’s thrift shop.  In the process of squeezing myself into 72 different dresses that were clearly made for 6-foot tall anorexic women with DDD breasts, I managed to break the bra strap on my last decent bra, so then I had to go bra shopping (while I do buy most of my clothes at St. Vinnie’s, I draw the line at underwear).  Apparently, I hadn’t done this in…ahem…a while.  I walked around today in my new bra feeling like my boobs had migrated quite a few inches north.  It is quite apparent that my old bras had lost more than a bit of their elasticity.  The salesperson asked if I wanted a pushup bra.  I declined at the time, but now I’m wondering what a push-up bra would cause my boobs to do…attack my chin? do actual pushups?

On the bright side, I found a few dresses that even appear as if they might not wrinkle once I wad them up and throw them in a suitcase (of course, I do actually fold my clothes when packing, it’s just that they always appear to have been wadded up and thrown into my suitcase.  I’m going to blame it on TSA.).  Of course, now that I’ve got the dresses, I realize that my favorite clunky sandals probably won’t “go” with such glad rags, but the thought of shoe shopping gives me nightmares, so I might be wearing sneakers with my ballgowns.  Sorry Grandpa.

In other sadder news, it was a bad month for disasters both national and personal.  My pregnant friend N was traveling to her field site in Nebraska with some other students when the driver of her car lost control, jumped the highway median and plowed head-on into a car in the oncoming lane.  The oncoming driver was killed and N ended up with a broken collarbone, a fractured vertebra, and unfortunately, lost her baby.  N’s husband and I drove down to pick her up from the hospital in Iowa where she was.  However, she couldn’t come home immediately, so we stayed there for a few days.  The hospital was so nice – they brought in cots for us to sleep on, let us eat the food from the lounge, and would even have let us bring N’s dogs!  The Holiday Inn it was not, though.  We all discovered that if you want a good night’s sleep, the LAST place you should go is a hospital.  Someone was in to check on N several times every hour.  The first night they were worried she might have an unnoticed brain problem so they woke her up every hour to shine bright lights in her eyes and ask her 20 questions.  N was a trooper though – funny and upbeat despite all the horror around her.  She’s home now,  in a full neck and torso brace and can’t move one arm.  However, all her injuries are temporary and once she heals, she should be fine.  Despite all her trauma and the horror of the huge neck/back brace, we took a boat out on the lake this weekend and have been working in her garden.  I hope I’m never in an accident that bad, but if I am, I hope I have half the positive attitude she has!  Also, M & M’s stepmom, a woodturner, was working in her shop with her lathe and had a horrible accident that crushed her skull.  She was in a coma for a week, but her brain activity stopped and the family finally decided to pull the plug.  Fortunately for many other families, she was an organ donor and her organs helped save many lives.  Please, please, make sure you sign your organ donor card.  That could be your mom or sister or son who gets a new lease on life.  For the record, I want every last bit of me donated if it can be of use to someone or for education or research.  I don’t need it when I’m gone and I’d rather my body be used where it can do some good.

This post was briefly interrupted by a bat in our stairwell, but he has been safely escorted back to the outside world again.

I’m off to bed now and will try to dream of a way to harness the reproductive prowess of Canada geese to speed up my research, provide organs for needy people, and do my bra and shoe shopping for me.

One Response to Goose, Goose, Duck!

  1. Harry Bissell says:

    Dear Heidi: If your career in various forms of poop doesn’t pan out you could become a comedy writer for television. The bit about your clothes is priceless!!! Anyway thanks for the update. Hope Sam is able to visit and is able to get through all the floods in the midwest. Looking forward to the big trip to Alaska. See you soon. Love Grandpa