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Harvard Forest Field Trip!

Harvard Forest Field Trip!

Last week we got to go on a field trip for work! We did the team building type stuff but we also got to check out the Harvard Forest – one of the oldest and most intensively studied forests in North America.

Not a painting – a detailed diorama!

 

The Harvard Forest is home to the Fisher Museum and contains incredibly detailed dioramas of various forest landscapes showing landscape history and use, conservation, and forest management of the New England forests. The dioramas are so detailed, they are compared to the forest equivalent of the glass flowers at the HMNH.

 

Deborah Kaspari

Deborah Kaspari, a Bullard Scholar at the Harvard Forest is an artist who draws “Historical Sites and Forest Succession” showed us some of her work in documenting the forest landscape and also shared some of the history of the land.

There are some trails to walk in the forest and we were lucky enough to have Clarisse Hart, a Harvard Forest Researcher and Outreach staff member. She showed us some notable aspects along the path such as Chestnut Trees, a SODAR (sonic detection and ranging) tower, previous lightning strikes, etc. Pictures and sound from our field trip are below!

I ate a freaking banana!

I ate a freaking banana!

For those of you who know me well, you know I don’t eat fruit (other than berries). Never got into it despite the desperate attempts of my mom and nursery school teachers. It was a hard no…up until this week. I’m trying hard with a new change in jobs to get new habits formed and eating right is part of it. Here is how I did it.

banana
Note: Not the ACTUAL banana that was consumed.
  1. Purchase the banana. Believe it or not, they are usually in the basket NEXT to the cookies and cupcakes. I never noticed this before.
  2. Purchase an effective chaser.  I chose iced green tea.  It is potent enough to wipe even the sweetest of banana taste from your mouth.
  3. Sit near something that smells like you would eat it.  I did this part by accident but I think its what got me through it.   I sat in between a Mexican Restaurant and a movie theater.  Every few minutes I could smell cheesy beans or buttery popcorn.   When I smelled those smells, my tummy rumbled, I closed my eyes, and I took a bite of banana.

I would say it took about 25 minutes for me to get through eating the banana.   It took another minute to find a garbage can for the peel.  Will I do it again?  Its hard to say at this point.  Stranger things have happened.  Earlier this week instead of eating the chips and cookie in my free lunch from Wordcamp – I ate the apple!  WHO AM I?!

Puppy Dogs, a tribute.

Puppy Dogs, a tribute.

I love dogs.  I especially love MY dogs.  I’ve been raised with some good ones.

I came along after Misty.  Because of her I thought that EVERY dog would run away the second you opened the front door.  She was afraid of thunder and fireworks.  Since she bolted a lot from the house my Dad would set off firecrackers in the front yard to get her to come home and she would come running from up the street and run straight into the bathtub to hide.  She was a good puppy dog.

Patty was…special. She was a rescue and was also afraid of and/or excited by many things.  We spent half her life trying to figure out what happened to her in the early days.  Near as we could figure she was tortured by a vacuum by a man with a beard.  Then again, using that logic it would mean that my brother was tortured by picking up sticks in the yard and emptying the dishwasher.   Patty loved a good bone and would savor them till for whatever reason it was time – time to chew it away. She also loved pizza and even almost ate my brother while trying to get a bite of his piece once.  Patty also had the loudest, most CONSISTENT bark for blocks.   She was a good puppy dog.

Wiley Ann Benoit…was special, smart, beautiful, funny, fiercely loyal, sassy and my sister.   Not to say that the other dogs weren’t these things, but Wiley had a way about her that let you feel like you were dealing with somebody more complex.  In many ways she was smarter than me.  She knew multiple languages and would actually heel and follow other commands.

She knew how to speak her mind, I think she could swear, and she loved men – I feel like in those ways we could relate.  She would play hide and seek and had favorite toys that she never destroyed.   When I first met her, she threw me up against the refrigerator with her paws on my chest barking in my face.  It was either “Hello I’ve heard so much about you we are going to be great sisters!” or it was “This is MY home who the hell are you walking in like you own the place get the hell out!” but we were able to move on regardless.

I could go on and on and on about all the amazing things Wiley accomplished in her 8 years just like anyone who has a dog can brag about their own.  Luckily, by the time Wiley came around we all had digital cameras and so we have plenty of pictures to look back on.  These photos do no justice to her beauty or her bark.  She was a good puppy dog…

Adding to my hypochondria – Slow Death By Rubber Duck

Adding to my hypochondria – Slow Death By Rubber Duck

I just finished reading Slow Death by Rubber Duck written by Rick Smith & Bruce Lourie. You can read all the reviews but basically they go over some chemicals that are in our everyday household items.   rubberducktitle_custom-s3-c85

The book goes into detail about how we should address this politically and is good for new parents wanting to limit the exposure of these chemicals to their children. Long story short, we ALL have these chemicals in our body.

Its hard for me to tell if some of this is overreaction or not. Then again, since I know too many people who have had chemo before the age of 35 I figured it was worth being cautious. Here are some abbreviated action items from the book per chemical that I will be following henceforth!

Chemical #1: Phthalates (plasticizers and also help aromas linger)

  • Avoid personal care products with perfume (side note: only products OK’d by the Skin Deep database should be used!)
  • Avoid PVC shower curtains

Chemical #2: Perfluorochemicals (PFC’s) (non-stick)

  • Throw away my non-stick pan
  • Avoid stainmaster and scotchguard products
  • Avoid Teflon

Chemical #3: Polybrominated  Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) (flame retardants)

  • Use naturally fibered products
  • Avoid furniture upholstery with PBDE
  • Dust & vacuum often since this stuff lives in the dust
  • Avoid PBDE in electronics

Chemical #4:  Mercury

This one confuses me since we have introduced Mercury with our CFLs. Also, I don’t eat fish so the eating part isn’t as much a concern for me.

Chemical #5: Triclosan (antibacterial)

There aren’t any known negative effects to this on humans that is widely accepted (that doesn’t mean I want it in my body) however introducing this chemical to the environment can have negative effects.  Thankfully, the alc0hol-based sanitizer I use doesn’t have it as an ingredient (although it does appear to have phthalates)!

  • Its a very popular chemical so check to make sure its not in a product that doesn’t need it (like a garden hose as pointed out in the book!)

Chemical #6:  Pesticides

I don’t have a lawn so that makes things easy.  All that’s left is my food.

  • Eat organic (the book recommends this guide to prioritize what you purchase organic)
  • Wash produce well

Chemical #7: Bisphenol A (BPA)

This stuff is in EVERYTHING!  The authors say “When buying items in plastic containers, remember this mantra: 4, 5, 1 and 2; all the rest are bad for you.” This is in reference to the recycling symbols found on plastic containers.

  • Avoid plastics 3, 6, and 7
  • Make sure the reusable water bottles you use don’t have BPA lining (I have Sigg bottles dated before 2008 so they do in fact have BPA)
  • Avoid canned foods
  • Don’t microwave plastic containers

Long story short – just because the chemical is being sold doesn’t mean it is safe.   It is important for those of us who have the ability to make choices that we use our power as consumers to choose our products wisely.

There are other books such as The Healthy Home that discuss similar topics.   Some of these chemicals and more are also detailed here in the Household Products Database from the US Dept of Health and Human Services.

I miss my old toys…

I miss my old toys…

Speak and SpellTime has reminded me about the best toys of all time.  My favorites:

View-Master
Little Golden Books
Colorforms
Paint-by-Numbers
Etch A Sketch
Lite-Brite
Speak & Spell
Cabbage Patch Doll
Masters Of The Universe Action Figures
Care Bears
My Little Pony
Pound Puppies

Pet sitting in Somerville

Pet sitting in Somerville

Last month we had the privilege of dog and cat sitting for a very nice little family!

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Chun Lee
Oliver
Smallz

In addition to all the furry love, we also tried some new places to eat in Teele Square!   Rudy’s Cafe has a an assortment of Tequila Cocktails, most very simple with fresh ingredients which is a good way to try the tequila and see which you prefer.   All I was able to determine is that it made me a chatty a drunk.

Keeping with the theme of drinking, we also stopped in Downtown Wine & Spirits in Davis Square who have a great variety of beers and spirits on hand including those from the Ryan & Wood Distillery!

For breakfast our favorite was Renee’s Cafe.  The waffles looked good but I went with the vegetarian benedict with both tomato AND spinach!  The potatoes were tasty and not overly greasy with a smaller portion size which is a good thing when its breakfast.

Once the furry family’s folks returned, we joined them for dinner at True Bistro – a vegan restaurant that serves gardein™ just like the restaurant we went to in Florida – Sublime.  It was extremely good, definitely a lot of flavor and honestly, any place that serves “cashew nut cheese” is a winner in my book.

I’m glad that our friends travel a lot because not only do I get some of the best unconditional love, I ALSO get good food!