Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Lucky Family Machete

Mike squeezes through the narrow path.

Today has been the day of days!  After a an entire year of trying to get the big vegetable garden in...we had our first delivery of dirt.  You never know how things are going to come to you.  I had a window washer here and he turned me on to "Mike" a landscaper who has a trailer with a hydraulic lift.  Mike came out and looked at the narrow space and turn to get to the raised beds.  He said the golden words: "I think I can get my truck and trailer back here."  H/L Services & Mike White to the rescue!

Today he picked up great black dirt, called me as promised, and was here at 3pm.  Bob and I directed him around the turn in the yard.  Bob said he felt like Buster Keaton in the movie "It's a Mad, Mad World". He backed through a narrow space and up to where the garden is.  We agreed that a tarp, rather than gravel would be a better landing spot.  So I ran to get the key to the tuff shed from the garage where I have a tarp I use in the Yukon for garden center runs.
 Bob and Mike empty the trailer.

It was one of those times that I was sooooo excited, and was in a full lope.  I pushed open the gate to the back yard, still running.  AND....(music from a slasher movie should be playing) a 4 foot SNAKE was in the grass on the other side of the gate.  I couldn't stop!  In a split second decision--I did a Swan Lake leap over the snake.  In my mind I was sure that it was going to rear up and strike the crotch that was flying over it.  To my delight, my second foot hit the ground without a nibble.  I started to scream and scared the bejesus out of Mike and Bob.  I kept running until I was in the house.  Slammed the mudroom door, and leaned my back against it for security.  I could feel my heart beating in my throat.  Because I am afraid of snakes beyond reason.  They are my nightmare.  Thanks to my brother Larry and the garter snakes of Door County Wisconsin. 

I was actually so afraid, that I took the long way around the house to the tough shed.  I could see Bob and Mike had it cornered.  I got the tarp and put it down as planned.  Afraid to look in the yard,  keeping a vigilant watch for snake buddies that might be lurking.  Mike returned to the business of dirt dumping on the tarp.  Bob said the snake was dead.  I don't want to hear the BS that  snakes are more afraid of me.  I am more afraid of them.  "All creatures, great and small...except snakes." That's my motto, and I'm sticking to it.

The "Lucky Family Machete" saves the day,
and Bob my hero!

Snake blood on the back door to the shop.

The truck couldn't get quite as far as the beds....but it's within 6 feet.  With a little help from my friends... we can start to put the dirt into the raised beds in the morning.  I am pleased as punch.  I will be treading more carefully in the future.  Another load tomorrow afternoon.  The wind is blowing in gale forces at the moment.  Hopefully, it will be here in the morning!  What an adventure. The Guatemalans  don't call Bob: "Chapoi Kumatz" (serpent hunter) for nothing!

Monday, April 12, 2010

College Field Trip: UNM

 A beautiful New Mexico Day at UNM

Going back to college was easy last week.  I went to UNM to see a presentation in the Biology Department by my future daughter-in-law.  She had prepared a presentation of fruit fly research they were doing in her lab.  She's a beautiful and brilliant "creature" (as my son fondly calls her).  Frankly, I understood little of what she said.  I tried to follow her poster (below), but knew little of the terms she framed it in.  I was proud, none the less of her hard work and determination.

Last weekend while I was frolicking in Durango Colorado, she was presenting in Washington DC at an annual Drosophila Melanoganster conference.  In layman's terms...a Fruit Fly conference.  I didn't realize that for over 100 years scientists from all over the world have been having this conference. Her lab is studying muscle involvement and genetics (I think I have it right), that will hopefully help, some day,  people with Parkinson's Disease and other similar diseases. 

Fruit Fly Genetics
is sort of Scientific Porn! 

Afterward I went to see my "nephew by marriage" as I fondly call him, Darrell.  I passed this sign on my way...the Potters are everywhere, I tell you! An entire wing in the Potter name.
 Who knew?  See, everyone loves those Potters!
Darrell is an employee at UNM Art Department, and teaches a "Metals 1" course.  I entered a land I knew something about.  I was really impressed by the size of some of the machines.  When entering the wood shop I came across a sign that I feel should be made into t-shirts.

Beautifully Macabre!
Darrell in a student installation in the hall.

Darrell introduced me to Chris, one of his art colleagues who also teaches art and "shop safety" at UNM.  When I went to school there were no "safety" classes.  We weren't the litigious society we have become now.  Professors just said wear goggles when using power tools and don't put your fingers near the blades.  That was my safety class...I have all 10 fingers I am typing with.  These days we are a helmet wearing, knee pad wearing people.  I am still not convinced we are better off with all these precautions.  But no one asked me, did they?

Below are Darrell's students final projects in Metals 1.  I think the assignment was brilliant, and I was impressed with these tiny Henry Mooreish silver and copper pieces.   Each is a masterpiece in it's own right.  They were photographed with my iPhone through glass... but you get the idea.

Of course I had to be ridiculously silly and asked Darrell to take a photo of my putting my head in the giant band saw.  Chris was there, and I asked him permission to do this.  He asked me to wait a minute while he turned off all power to that part of the shop.  The antlers on my head are actually "pushers" to guide pieces through the saw instead of using your fingers. 
Look at the size of this saw...and the blade!  

That was my UNM field trip.  Chris shook his head as Darrell snapped the photo.  He said: "I see you two have a similar sense of humor."  Mmmmhhhmmmm.  

Thanks for reading.  I'm still amazed that you do.