Recently in Science Category
This garden visitor seems to like my new Marigolds as much as I do. The Marigolds were my Mother's Day present and I think our guest is an Eastern Amberwing. This species dragonfly is a wasp mimic and is also one of the smallest dragonflies in North America. According to my readings, this is a female. The males have completely amber wings and the females have clear areas on their wings.
More on my garden later.
I am still working on the 100 Species Challenge (looks like Melissa Wiley is also). Now that everything is growing and blooming again, I'm hoping to work much more on the challenge. For those who have forgotten, the goal is to identify 100 species of plant life in your area.
Number three on my list are Rain Lilies:
I've already counted this species, but I can't help showing these new photos. Last Friday, the children and I dug up scores of bulbs around our yard to plant in pots. When wild plants show up in the yard, I try to rescue them from the lawnmower.
Digging up the bulbs was very educational because we got a chance to see how large bulbs would form bulbous growths that, with time, would separate from the mother bulbs to form bulblets.
I am hoping to plant these bulbs in a flower bed next spring. As for now, they have been saved from the mower and the weedkiller spray as my husband and I do not agree on what constitutes a "weed".
I do not think anything this lovely could ever be called a weed. I am trying to help my husband understand that there is a difference betwixt a plant blessing and a plant nuisance.
I think he must be coming around to my way of thinking because he kindly spared mowing a Rain Lily in the front yard which I had overlooked. Or perhaps he did that just because he is so indulgent of my gardening fancies.
Monday we participated in the GBBC 2010 and enjoyed ourselves much. This was the most I have exerted myself since my brain surgery in November, so I was very tired afterwards. We stayed in our own neighborhood and didn't travel the local trail, as we usually do. Because of this, we didn't spot as many birds as in past years, but I think we still did well.
Here's our tally:
- 12 Muscovy ducks
- 32 Mallard ducks
- 1 Snowy Egret
- 1 Great Egret
- 1 Little Blue Heron
- 1 Green Heron
- 5 White Ibis
- 1 Wood Stork
- 1 Turkey Vulture
- 4 Common Moorhens
- 1 Northern Mockingbird
- 1 Palm Warbler
See? Not too bad. As you can see, we found many water birds - thanks to the three ponds in our tiny neighborhood.
The best part of the bird count was that we got a chance to see a newly laid clutch of Muscovy eggs.
A few photos from the bird count:
It's almost time for another Great Backyard Bird Count. Seven more days, to be exact. This year's count will begin on Friday, February 12 and end on Monday, February 15. There will be prizes for the photo contest and a general prize drawing among all the participants. How nice! All of the prizes look great and would be helpful teaching aids in our homeschool; however, we love to participate in the count each year, regardless of potential prizes. It is great fun to look for birds and to contribute our collected data.
To participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, print a tally sheet for your area. Next, you will need to spend at least 15 minutes counting the birds in your area. You can observe in your own backyard or at the park down the street. Just make sure to keep a separate tally sheet for each location and for each day you participate. After you count your local birds, enter your tally at the Great Backyard Bird Count website.
After the bird count, scientists will use the data collected to answer many questions. That's why the bird count is so important.
Teachers and homeschoolers might like the free classroom materials available.
If you don't have a bird guide book to help you with identification, you can look online for help. I often use eNature.com for identification. I take the closest photo possible and use it as a reference when I return home. In fact, I identify most flora and fauna in this manner.
I hope you all will join the Great Backyard Bird Count this year. Remember: it begins in only one week.
Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries...
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh - Book VII
I can't say that Elizabeth Barrett Browning is a hero of mine, but long before my own body fell to ruin I admired her ability to learn, live, and grow despite illness and pain. The quotation above, taken from her nine book blank verse novel, is certainly a gem of truth.
Even a common blackberry bush is as full of God as Moses' burning bush. Some recognize this and honor the Lord; others can see nothing beyond a bush of blackberries.
I find it difficult to understand atheists. How can anyone observe the natural world and not acknowledge the Creator? Every living thing around us is born from the breath of God and possesses a touch of His majesty.
The whole world is afire with God. Let us behold His works and stand on holy ground.
H discovered this tree frog on a window in the house yesterday. There was much debate on what to do with the wee jumper. No one had the heart to throw him outside. There are iguanas dropping from trees in our state, you know. S put him on this pineapple plant we had moved inside to avoid the frost. I suspect this guy, or gal, came in when we brought the pineapple plant or the orchid inside.
By the way, we're growing this pineapple plant from the leftover top of a whole pineapple we bought at the grocery store. H's great-aunt & uncle have a pineapple plant grown this way and it's bearing fruit. I think the process is very cool, but it looks weird to see a pineapple when it is growing.
After this photo, our guest burrowed into the leaves and soil. I hope he survives his visit in our house. I always hate to find a dead lizard who snuck inside, became trapped, and died.
As for the humans of the house, we're crossing our frosty fingers that the expected fair weather forcasted starting this Thursday lasts awhile.
For days...and days...and days, H has had a glass of water outside at night in a desperate quest to see it solidify. Yes, Floridians are silly and a bit odd.
After repeat failure, I told H to move the glass away from the heat of the house and last night he finally obtained his goal.
Naturally, we were all very excited this morning. I mean, really, how often does one see a glass of ice?
And to all Floridians who got sleet, flurries, or snow yesterday: I only hate you a little bit and am sure my envy will fade. Eventually.
In October 2004, I went to the dentist for a root canal and ever since I've had a condition called trigeminal neuralgia (TN), a neuropathic disorder of the trigeminal facial nerve which causes "stabbing, mind-numbing, electric shock-like pain". For a long time, we had no idea what was wrong with me. I had three dental surgeries and a molar pulled before I decided the pain was not going to be helped by dentistry. Apparently, this is common amongst TN patients. After seeing many doctors, including an otolarynologist, I finally made it to a neurologist who quickly gave my pain a name.
I was happy to learn that TN is considered one of the most painful diseases to have; now, I didn't feel like such a wimp for feeling so bad. For five years it has hurt to brush my hair, brush my teeth, wash my face, eat, smile, laugh, live. TN is called the "Suicide" disease because so many with the disorder end up killing themselves. As I type this, it feels like a screwdriver is being jammed into my left ear - and I've only just woken. I lightly scratch an itch above my lip and the pain spreads there. As the day progresses, the pain will spread and get worse.
My neurologist is using the typical treatment for TN: anticonvulsants and opiates. Unfortunately, it is difficult to have a good life with these medications, especially in the large doses I'm prescribed. I have also gotten to the point where the opiates no longer control the pain. I have to take another option: Microvascular decompression.
So, next Friday, my surgeon, one of the best in the world, will cut a small hole in my skull behind my left ear and attempt to isolate the trigeminal nerve. If it appears that isolation is not going to be helpful, the surgeon will damage the nerve.
Patients are put to sleep using general anesthesia and are positioned on their back with their head turned or on their side with the symptomatic side facing up. Electrical monitoring of facial function and hearing is used. A straight incision is made two finger breadths behind the ear about the length of the ear. A portion of the skull the size of a half-dollar is removed exposing the underlying brain covering known as the dura. The dura is opened to expose the cerebellum. The cerebellum is allowed to fall out of the way exposing the side of the brain stem. Using a microscope and micro-instruments, the arachnoid membrane is dissected allowing visualization of the 8th, 7th and finally the trigeminal nerve. The offending loop of blood vessel is then mobilized. Frequently a groove or indentation is seen in the nerve where the offending vessel was in contact with the nerve. Less often the nerve is thin and pale. Once the vessel is mobilized a sponge like material is placed between the nerve and the offending blood vessel to prevent the vessel from returning to its native position.
After the decompression is complete, the wound is flushed clean with saline solution. The dura is sewn closed. The skull is reconstructed and the overlying tissues are closed in multiple layers. The patient is allowed to wake up and is taken to an intensive care unit or other close observation unit.
Here is a three-minute TV news report explaining TN: