Mansplaining or Dental Work. Which is worse?

Ok, so I’m going to disappoint you because I really can’t tell you which of these horrid phenomena is worse.

Let me say up front that I generally try to work hard and pay my bills. I have some rather expensive dental work I keep putting off simply because I can’t afford it. I’m still paying off my dental work from November of 2015. I inherited my mother’s teeth and jaws. And they have really bad problems – and stiffness now. It’s odd. The joint pain is more like stiffness some days. Can you get arthritis in your jaws? Does it result from TMJ? (I have had osteoarthritis in both knees and both ankles since I was very young.)

Anyway, I am trying to find a way to consolidate my debt and move forward so I can (yippee!) get more dental work done.

Yesterday, I had to listen to a banker lecture me on how he was ‘on my side’. And he didn’t like my ideas. So I walked out of the bank I’ve used for more than 12 years with no satisfactory answers or timeframes.

Did he want my business? I’m rather doubtful. And I’m not sure I want to listen to the patronizing mansplaining any more.

The real kicker is my current credit score is 736. Which is, as I understand it, pretty decent.

I guess I’ll deal with the pain for a little while longer.

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What’s Blooming This Weekend?

So here’s my species list for this past weekend in Rocky Mountain National Park:

  • Loco Weed
  • Golden Banner
  • Beardless Sidebells Penstemon
  • Clustered Penatemon
  • Marsh Marigold
  • (Narrowleaf) Red Paintbrush
  • Yellow Paintbrush
  • Elderberry
  • Gooseberry
  • Serviceberry
  • Wax Current (already setting fruit)
  • Blanketflower
  • Sulfurflower
  • Blue Iris
  • Shrubby Cinquefoil
  • Beauty Cinquefoil
  • American Bistort
  • Chickweed
  • Yellow Sweetclover
  • Wallflower
  • Calypso Orchid
  • Bedstraw
  • Strawberry
  • Short Style Onion
  • Shooting Star
  • Blue-eyed grass
  • Yellow Stonecrop
  • Bladderpod or Draba
  • Sheepsorrel
  • Richardson Geranium
  • Pink Geranium
  • Primrose
  • Parry’s Harrbell
  • Leafy Cinquefoil
  • Heartleaf Arnica
  • Raspberry
  • Chokecherry
  • Yarrow
  • Pearly Everlasting
  • Alpine Forget-me-not
  • Alpine Avens
  • Alpine Primrose
  • Alpine Phlox
  • Lanceleaf Chiming Bells
  • Moss Campion
  • Dwarf Clover
  • Fendler Meadowrue (male plant recorded)

There are a few others. I am confident I am forgetting a few.

Next week we should see the Alpine Sunflowers (Old Man of the Mountain) start to bloom. I saw lots of buds today!

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A Wildflower Nerd’s Dream

Penstemon

Ok, so here is a dream project…. Republishing the taxonomic key to the flora of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Yes, I know how nerdy that sounds.

Don’t be a hater.

The late Betty Willard has become a hero to me. She knew, I mean she was an expert on, the flora of Rocky’s mountains and valleys. Her book, written with Linda and Richard Beidleman and published in 2000 (now out of print) by the Rocky Mountain Nature Association is, itself, an updated version of a much older taxonomic key, this time with several hundred photos and line drawings.

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Many of us know a birder…. That dedicated seeker with binoculars that travels hundreds of miles just to add another species to their life list. (Admittedly, I know several.) I will never admit to that level of craziness, but I certainly have a life list of North American wildflowers. 

And helping me build that list is Betty Willard. I wish I could have known her and picked her brain while on a few hikes. Even today, after all these years, I found a couple of plants that were difficult to ID, even using her key. Perhaps they aren’t native. At least one is a lily of some sort, I am pretty sure, and she includes dandelions in her key, which are not native, so I am curious about what I found.

What really makes me curious is the fact that I think I know the lily… from other parks, maybe, or similar species… but why would it not be included here? The closest species I could find in her key is one that apparently likes shade. My plant was smack in full sun in the middle of Moraine Park. It was hidden in the grass, so perhaps it had a bit of shade. But not really. Generally a fairly hot meadow, except early in the spring right after mud season (or during mud season) – which is what we are nearly ending right now. 

I know it sounds totally nerdy, but to find something that Betty Willard might not have included makes my flower-loving heart skip a beat. A few years ago, a fellow interpretive ranger at Rocky Mountain told me that she considered Willard’s work the best for the park in our field. 

Pun intended, sort if.

So it has become a bucket list item for me, ever since I was told that republishing Willard’s work was cost-prohibitive for the folks who proposed it during the park’s centennial in 2015.

I have, perhaps, 200 species photographed in the park. And the ecological and ethnobotanical ramifications of said species. But in this age of low attention spans, the “I want it now!!!” mentality, and “Why does that matter?” attitude, I can see how the project can easily be cost-prohibitive. 

And it breaks my heart, for the following reasons:

  1. Fewer people are getting to know these majestic mountains as I (and the Betty Willards of the world) know them,
  2. Fewer people are connecting to their parks as I have,
  3. And science – and attention to detail – are going by the proverbial wayside. 

So it will still be on my bucket list, to expose this amazing land to future generations through the plants that produce the very oxygen, water and soil we rely upon. And publish a taxonomic key while I am at it.

Screw the smart phones. Let’s go find a Pedicularis.

This is one happy nerd on a mission. 

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A Little HR Haiku

Long, long day at work

Data, numbers, HR help!

Brain exploding now

We need your timesheet

Your personnel file is wrong

Do what I tell you

Timesheets equal paychecks

Missing timesheets do not pay

Please just turn it in

Deadlines are your friends

Do not kill the messenger

The rules predate me

Ah…, the life of an HR data analyst. I know so much more about so many people than I want to know. 

Ever want to write haiku about your job? A friend and I did this while supposedly eating lunch today (read:turning away from our databases to answer another phone call).

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A Little Meditation

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Just a bit of handspun yarn. Nothing much to see here. I did some spinning this weekend. Two-ply, 100% wool, hand-dyed by a friend of mine.

I am lucky enough to have a friend who will lend me her wheel for several months. She is packing and moving an apartment in the meantime. It’s a win-win situation.

And I get to say I did some spinning yesterday.

No, I didn’t go to the gym. My spinning uses different muscles. 😉 And it requires a lot more patience – a challenge for me this weekend!

Here’s another bit that I finished:

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You know, it’s so satisfying to see a project coming along. As my bobbin fills up, I can breath a little easier and I get into the rhythm. It can be very meditative. The movement of wheel and the fiber as is flows through my fingers can almost mesmerize. It’s a work out that ties me to generations of people.  I wonder how many other people have felt this meditation?

The roving was dyed tans and teals, in alternating segments, so I’m making a variegated yarn. It’s amazing that my yarn started off as part of a pile of fiber that looked something like this:

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I still haven’t figured out what to make from the yarn. Any ideas?

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What Can You Do?

Influence

Last week, I attended three days of meetings with our office’s Employee Council. Most of what we discussed will be of no interest to anyone outside our office. However, there was one little session that our meeting facilitator, Brian, held. Actually, he interrupted a rather heated discussion to teach us a lesson.

You see, we are all rather concerned about our work, our offices (we are actually spread out all over the country), and our productivity. Everyone has some sort of passion about our organization.

Yet for the past 6 months or so, we feel like we have been spinning our wheels. We have been limited by various factors – some of which are completely outside of our control – and the results of which are a very frustrated Employee Council.

Brian drew the graphic above on the white board at the front of the conference room and said he was going to remind us of something very basic. We all have very large issues with which we are concerned – for example, the future of our office and organization. However, each of us individually cannot really make major changes in the organization as a whole.

What we CAN do are the small things that are within our sphere of influence. And as we take those little steps, we have the chance to grow our sphere of influence.

It might be obvious, but it really struck me.

How much have I allowed myself to get bogged down the last six months by the bigger picture and huge issues of this world? Yes, it is important to see the bigger picture and understand the issues, but I need to focus on doing the small steps that will open other opportunities for me to be even more productive and influential for my organization and my world.

So that is where I paused this weekend. I’m in charge of keeping our meeting notes during the 2017 year and I spent several hours this weekend typing up days of meeting notes and thinking through all of what has happened. I also figured out several things about my coworkers and organization, among other things. 😉

For now, my first steps in this process are to help our council chairwoman keep up on the minutia of the Council’s actions and documentation for the year. I’m going to stay on top of my projects at work, and I’m going to try to manage my life away from work in such a way as to allow my small fiber arts business to grow as much as possible.

Oh, and of course, I’m going to spend a bit of my time off enjoying the mountains and helping others do the same.

So what small steps can you take?

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It’s Summer In The Mountains

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Long’s Peak soars on the horizon looking over travelers on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.

It’s no secret that I love the high windswept meadows of Rocky Mountain National Park. By about February or March every year, I’m MORE than ready for wildflower season to commence.

But this year we Coloradans had a wrench thrown into our spring. on May 19-20 we had a huge storm come through. The National Park Service had nearly cleared and readied Trail Ridge for its annual opening on Memorial Day weekend, But when the storm hit, the front range mountains received several feet that kept blowing around for days.

And I had to postpone my first drive of the season. I make it a practice to make sure my Friday off (I don’t work a normal 9-5 work schedule) aligns with the opening of Trail Ridge so I can be a tourist for one day and just drive the road, stopping at every single overlook and enjoying the views. It’s just something I have to do after months of being stuck at 5,280 feet of elevation. 😉

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Approaching Poudre Lake and the Continental Divide.

On June 3, I finally got to make my annual drive. There was relatively little traffic that morning – I was the only person stopped at Rock Cut, believe it or not – and the weather was perfect. Warm and sunny, with a bit of a breeze. The perfect day to drive Trail Ridge Road.

I made it over to Kawuneeche from Estes Park in less than 2 hours – even with a few brief photo stops – and walked through the meadows at Coyote Valley and Holzworth, and then walked up the Colorado River Trail a bit. Marsh Marigolds and Candytuft showed white in the meadows wet with the spring melt.

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Chickweed. I could really use a macro lens for my camera.

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The Colorado River flows through the Kawuneeche Valley.

It was a really nice day in the park. Next visit, I’ll be looking at the tiny flowers above treeline. I can’t wait!

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