Monday, April 26, 2010

Flea-bitten Female

I started my 3 mile run tonight with a shirt and good intentions...

I ran a 1.5 mile route down to a small local marina that I really like where a few really beautiful sailboats are docked. I've been by this dock several times and have seen a really fat orange cat lounging around the docks. I thought it'd be a beautiful evening to run down to the marina, give the little guy a pat, and then head over to the playground for my hardcore playground workout (no seriously, it kicks my butt!).

Within the first 5 minutes I got whapped pretty hard in the eye by a bug. This put me to rubbing my eye and tearing up on the corner for another 5 minutes as I tried to cry it out so that I could see again. So then I continue to run down the street like a pirate and get down to the docks.

Just as I get there, I see the exact cat I was looking for slowly dragging itself across the planks, sopping wet, and much smaller looking than I remember. He was looking really rough and as I approached a few mallards took off from the water. They were no doubt the creatures that lured him into the water to begin with. He looked pathetic. His fur stuck to him in funny ways and water streamed from his face and legs. I think he was pretty exhausted from trying to get back on the dock too. I looked around and I have no idea how he managed to make the 2 foot leap from the water back onto the dock, but luckily he had managed. So there I am with this super cute, sad looking cat that keeps meowing at me as I try to calm him down. He was obviously uncomfortable and I wanted to help out. So I took my shirt off and toweled him down, much to his contentment. As I inspected my handiwork, I took a brief look at my shirt which was now stained brown with the muddy water from the intracoastal. I barely noticed some black specks in his fur and on my shirt...then it hit me and bit me all at the same time...oh crap! FLEAS! I start to itch immediately out of paranoia and disgust. Sorry cute kitty, no more petting for you. After I reassess my shirt and deemed it hopeless, I quickly found a trash can to rid of it. So now I'm left shirtless, standing in my sports bra, itchy. I ran the 1.5 miles back home as quickly as possible. It turns out fleas are a really good motivation to run fast. When I reached the house I immediately took a scalding hot shower, threw my clothes in the washing machine, and tried to forget my bug issues of the day.

It's funny. Just this past weekend when my Mom was visiting, I was contemplating the daunting task ahead of me called moving...again. The next time I move I plan to take only a car full. So in the meantime there will be a lot of downsizing and sorting. As it turns out, flea infested clothing is the first to questions asked, no remorse! Thanks kitty for kicking off spring cleaning.

Here are some pictures from this past weekend to help you get the thought of bugs out of your mind:

I love this picture of Mom...she looks radiant and so healthy!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy Earth Day

So I meant to post this yesterday, but since I believe everyday should be Earth Day, I feel this is still justified. What did you do to celebrate Earth Day? My mom is here in Delray Beach visiting me for a few days and I'm trying to squeeze in some fun things around my work schedule. Last night we went to see the premier of the new Disney movie called "Oceans," have some wine, and eat cheesecake. The movie was really beautifully done (in the same style as March of the Penguins and the Life and Planet Earth series). The videography was breathtaking and I imagine, quite difficult and dangerous at times. Disney really dodged every and all environmental concern that could have been addressed in the film. They noticeably distract the viewer from the realities of our human impact with pretty images. Mom and I found this unfortunate, because this film, which will probably be seen by hundreds of children and parents, would be a great platform to at least raise awareness of our infractions. Come on Disney...take a little initiative. We're not asking you to become environmental activists, but if you have footage of issues going on in the oceans, feel free to show it...we need to see these! Ok, enough of a rant...I recommend you check out the movie yourself and see how you feel. The images are just amazing!

On another treehugger note, this past weekend, on my way back from an amazing hippie jamfest in northern Florida, I stopped to see the largest live oak in Florida. I have been using the National Register of Trees from the American Forests to find large trees in the area and this one was a whopper! It is 29 feet in circumference, 79 feet tall, and has a canopy spread of 154 feet. It's the biggest tree I have ever seen and touched in real life. There was even a really cool branch that came out low on the base of the trunk, arched toward the heavens, and then touched the earth again to support it's mass. I climbed it and loved it and worshiped it for it's age and wisdom. Imagine all the things this tree has seen!

Happy Earth Day!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Treehugger Confessions

Over the years, I've been asked many times why I've chosen environmental science as my career path. I've never had a great answer for that. It's not something I've ever been able to put into words. For me it's just a given. Um, of course I would go into environmental science, it's what I love and I can't imagine being happy doing anything else. But how do you put love and passion into words, on paper, or as a concise answer during an interview? It's so personal to me that there are times that I get a little bashful to talk about it. Almost as if you're asking me to disclose some beautiful secret that I've stowed away for years but it seems silly and much too private to talk about it now.

What lead me to this train of thought is that I just read the most amazing passage from a book I've had for years but have never cracked open. It's called Talking on the Water by Jonathan White. I think Mom got it for me years back...but I can't recall exactly. Oddly enough, I just came to find out too that this book was written based on interviews conducted in 1983 (my birth year) with environmentalists (my passion) on a dilapidated schooner (one of my favorite recent hobbies). So I guess it's meant to be that I haven't started reading it until now.

The first interview is with Gretel Ehrlich, a writer and avid traveler with strong ties to nature. Interestingly she discusses how nature helped her heal during the loss of a loved one. This passage really speaks to me and I feel that this is one of the best descriptions of why I feel so connected to nature.

"When you're sick, the instinct is to go to bed. When you're grieving, the same instinct makes you want to find a place that is uncomplicated, accepting, and tolerant. I wanted to hook up with whatever it is that makes things live and die, and I wanted to be with people who weren't going to talk it into the ground.

Anyone who lives and works in the natural world has a tacit understanding of death. If you know about death and about how things come into life - about the joys and sorrows associated with these things - without psychologizing it to death, there's nothing more that needs to be said."

The 42 acres of hardwood forest I grew up on was the perfect hideaway when I was sad and helped me grieve the loss of my father 17 years ago. Still today, I find solace in being outdoors during times of joy and sorrow. It makes me feel alive, clear headed, and miles away from life's troubles.

Just thought I'd share something I've been trying to describe all these years. What's your emotional connection to nature?

How adventurous are you when you travel?

I have been on Couch Surfing now for several years, but unfortunately, I still haven't had the pleasure of hosting anyone or staying on anyone else's couch. I've had a couple of people contact me but I'm a little hesitant and cautious about having strangers stay on my couch/air mattress. But I recently had an amazing experience meeting a CouchSurfer (CSer) from Utah and showing him the best of Delray Beach for a weekend. I am really excited about the idea of having a cheap way to travel, a good place to stay, and company while I'm doing so. If you don't know about couch surfing it's a great network of people across the world who offer up their couches/floors/extra beds for travelers in the area. Check out the website.

I have recently learned about two other similar networks. There is a website called Crashpadder which is very similar but they allow hosts to charge a small fee for the "crashing" area. And usually these appear to be rooms rather than just couches. Pretty cool. GoBackpacking claims that by charging a fee and the need to exchange credit card information may make this experience feel a little safer because there are verified real names and personal information exchanged. I'm not so sure about that, but it's an interesting concept. It seems pretty new, so they are still working on building the network. So far there are rooms in 763 cities.

And for another step up there is a website I just learned about called Airbnb. I'm really really excited about this network. It's basically a way for people to rent out their rooms or extra spaces.

This reminds me of my travels through Italy in 2004 when my boyfriend (at the time) and I went to some amazing locations without any hotel reservations. We used our sparse grasp of the Italian language to find rooms that locals were renting out. Many of the adorable homes in Italy had tiny signs on their doors and windows that said "camera" which translates as "room" and means that they have a room available. We had the best experience in some of these places and met amazing people in the process. It's always more fun to do things like that than stay at a Holiday Inn...which look the same no matter what country you're in. So back to Airbnb. Hosts can post pictures and information about their rooms for rent on the site and you can search the rooms by location and price. The places range from treehouse type cottages to castles! Amazing! And the prices vary dramatically too. Check out this slideshow of their top 20. I'm going to try to stay at the Mushroom Dome Cabin and the Fern Forest Treehouse someday. So cute!!

Have you or would you use any of these networks? I can't wait to try some of these out while roadtripping this summer!!