Ecology, Green

Weekend in Sedona

DH near the West Fork trailhead.

It was a rare treat to see fall foliage.

I tried keying this Penstemon to the species (Keil Key), but I’m a little rusty.  This was my trail:

1′ Plants reproducing by seeds; spores produced but retained in ovules or developing into pollen grains.

2′ Ovules enclosed in an ovary at the time of pollination; the pollen-receptive structure a stigma; seeds borne in fleshy or dry fruits derived from ripened carpel tissue [ANGIOSPERMS].

3′ Gynoecium composed of 1 pistil, this either simple or compound.

4′ Perianth represented by 2 or more whorls or complete spirals , the outer usually treated as sepals and the inner as petals.

8′ Perianth parts usually in whorls of 4 or 5, or indefinite in number [MOSTLY DICOTS].

9. Petals connate into a ring or tube, sometimes only at the base, the entire corolla falling as a single unit.

10. Ovary or ovaries superior: KEY 9

Key 9: Dicots with Petals United into a Ring or Tube and a Superior Ovary

1′ Plants green and photosynthetic.

5′ Anther-bearing stamens as many as corolla lobes or fewer.

12. Functional stamens fewer than corolla lobes; staminodes sometimes present.

13′ Terrestrial plants, or if growing in water, leafy stems as well as flowers above water surface; underwater parts, if any, not finely dissected and trap-bearing; roots present; placentation axile, parietal, or basal.

14. Flowers actinomorphic or nearly so.

15. Corolla lobes 4: SCROPHULARIACEAE (I used this key in my botany classes.  It’s worth noting Penstemon has been moved to Plantaginaceae)

Here I switch to my trusty Kearney and Peebles reference, Arizona Flora

“Plants annual or perennial, a few shrubby, in some genera partially parasitic; leaves opposite, alternate, or mostly basal, simple, entire to pinnately parted; flowers perfect, very irregular to nearly regular; calyx 4 or 5 toothed or lobed; stamens inserted on the corolla tube, commonly 4, in unequal pairs, a fifth stamen (staminode) often present but nonfunctional, or sometimes only 2 of the stamens perfect, or (in 1 genus) all 5 of the stamens perfect; style 1, the stigma entire or 2-lobed, the ovary superior, more or less completely 2-celled; fruit a capsule, usually 2 valved and longitudinally dehiscent, sometimes opening by pores or bursting irregularly; seeds usually many, small.

A large and diverse family, comprising many plants that are cultivated as ornamentals.  The plants are mostly innocuous, but the Old World foxglove (Digitalis purpea), often grown in the U.S. as an ornamental, is the source of the drug digitalis, a powerful cardiac stimulant.”

Key to the Genera.  I’m not going to bore you further with Flora and if you’re interested it really is worth buying the book.  I love hiking, but sometimes it’s more fun when you are actively trying to identify plants (or animals if that’s your thing).  I went as far as Penstemon.

Ecology, Environment, Global Change, Green, In the Kitchen, Organic

Earth Hour Pictures

Pre-Earth Hour after-market espresso break. DH sure loves that biscotti.


Sun induced delirium causes hallucinations of delicious food.


DH making bread.


DH posing with bread. We got to use our dipping set because of this!




Purple carrot!

What Kind of Thinker are You?

Someone posted this fun little quiz on Daily Kos.  It was interesting so I thought I’d share it and my results with you.  Take it, post your results and whether you agree or disagree.  It’s fun!

This quiz is intended to be a fun way to learn about different thinking styles. It can provide you with some interesting information about your preferred ways of creative thinking and problem solving. However, no brief questionnaire can guarantee accurate information.

Ecology, Educational, Environment, Global Change, Green, Rant

What to do Now? (Sorry, Rant)

Initially, I chose my major because it was interesting to me and very flexible.  I’ve always had this thing about not being caged in or tied down with limited options so I wanted a bio degree that would let me travel, be outside, and generally screw around.  Well, be careful what you wish for.

Now that it’s time to find a real job, narrowing decisions is tougher than expected and I’m not as willing to leave AZ as I was before.  This is due to DH’s education, as I have posted before he can only take so many credits at a time due to our financial situation and I would hate for him to take time away from it or get screwed over by credits not transferring to another school.  Many of the interesting jobs are located elsewhere and though we would love to get out of this state it isn’t looking so great right now.  I have an interview with an environmental lobbying group coming up but this is not my preferred route.  Field work would be awesome, but not like Game and Fish Biologist, out-in-fraking-Denali-for-months work (though I have it on good authority they have a lot of fun and mess around all the time, such as “sampling” fish stock on the clock).  Another opportunity is with the EPA but they aren’t interviewing until April.  I would like a crack at this!  Yet another thing is these fancy jobs are great for new grads but require a 2 year committment.  Do I just not say anything about the possibility of DH not being able to stay?  So I might go the consultant route which sounds fun and dangerous for nerdy biology types but could potentially be a soul-sucking-sellout thing if you have to make a bad company look good.

For example, one opportunity I passed on was as a private wildlife consultant for a defense contractor in Sierra Vista AZ.  They basically wanted fresh meat to write a nice little statement saying their plans to remove desert tortoises would not negatively impact the species or its habitat.  So not gonna happen, those vulnerable little guys are my homies!  And you know what else?  I do not feel adequately prepared in NEPA knowledge, much less EIS writing.  On top of this, to get certified in these things usually requires 3 years working in the field.  How am I going to get a job to get experience in NEPA if you have to have NEPA & EIS experience to get a job?

So for now, one step at a time.  My sweet mother-in-law insists the right job will find me.  I’m not so optimistic but she means well.  I could always study sloth migration patterns…

I did get some nice networking cards made. You never know who you’ll meet up with!
A cute picture of DH playing with our Rat, Portabella. We got her from the AZ Humane Society in December.
DH actually made this box for her to run around in. He’s kind of crazy like that :)
Educational, Environment, Explanations, Global Change

Happy Halloween!

Lots of stuff:

Soil Ecology Field Trip Group: C, F, and M


Mr. W, THE soil expert/artist telling us we suck : )


I work as a tutor and my students' objectives include "Follow a set of written directions" so I wrote a treasure map. The map is on old-world map scrapbook paper, the clues are bound in red ribbon, and a jeweled treasure box awaits the students! We're doing this activity Monday.
Treasure chest


Zombie Walk Downtown Phoenix


Creepy old Rosson House, Downtown Phoenix. Happy Halloween!