Thursday, 24 November 2011


I love Blue, just all shades of blue. Since I am pressed for time to play with words, I figured I would share with you some recent pictures of this handsome bird.

This is the most I have seen of these fellas in the autumn. A feeder is a great way to meet them while they are in transit. Sadly they have sent my smaller visitors flying. Blue jays are very territorial.

Thursday, 10 November 2011


I have been obsessed with the malaria parasite for nearly a decade now. Not like a scientist in a laboratory would be, but it my own way. I kept up with the research, kept thinking it through, drawing my own diagrams and often wondering what I would do if I were the parasite. I have lots of respect for this bug. It is very clever. I say that for lack of a better word.

Now scientists are getting closer to finding a vaccine. It is very exciting that they have identified the receptors involved.  After reading this I went looking for one of my first papers on malaria, written nearly eleven years ago (nerd, I know, I keep them all). I also kept it because I enjoyed writing it so much. The good thing about keeping old papers is that I get to revisit questions I was not able to answer back then, questions that come up when you do your literature reviews. Sometimes the papers are down right embarrassing.

What I had learned back then was that the four different types of malaria parasites seem to be attracted to red blood cells in various stages of development. P.falciparum, the most virulent of them all, invades red cells of all ages where as P.vivax and P.ovale prefer younger red cells and P.malariae seeks mature cells. So my question was to do with the difference in molecular structure of the red blood cells in its various stages of development. This article kind of gets at that. I am sure it is a matter of time before we learn enough to confer protection for those most at risk.

Sometimes it is just as exciting to be a spectator of science. I love it!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The last bunch

I have put my garden to bed for another six months. I planted all of my bulbs, raked the leaves and mulched every bed. I like to tidy things up in the Fall so when my little surprises start to show in the Spring I can enjoy them without the rotting foliage all around. There's plenty to do in the Spring anyway. The garden is in for a major overhaul.

I also pruned my roses down quite harshly this time and covered them with just a mound of mulch. They didn't do to well. Caterpillars and every kind of bug got to them, my neighbour's giant tree casting more shade than we had four years ago could be partly to blame. Well, 2012 may bring a new kind of Summer and hopefully be kinder to my Golden Celebration.

The last of my favourite roses

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Narcissus, more of them

My very own in mid-Spring, 2011

Anyone who knows me and has been reading this blog will know that I love flowers. Much to my delight I recently discovered that my thumb is more green than black. Although this Summer was not so great for my garden, in general it fared well. I even had some luck with the bulbs I planted last year. So I got a bit bold and decided to buy a few more, well about fifty more, but in my defense I bought only daffodil bulbs. They are more resilient and squirrels are not likely to dig them up. They all went in today, on the second day of November with a maximum high of 18 degrees Celsius!

Glorious Narcissus - not my garden

I thoroughly enjoyed my time outdoors planting the bulbs, and got to thinking about how the flower got its name. And of course I searched the internet and found the story of Narcissus. I know my friend Prashani would know more and tell this hunter's story way better. The simple scientific explanation for the name exists, but I like the story of the narcissus being the first flower to spring from the place where this vain Greek hunter died. Much more exotic. Perhaps I like this story even more because the daffodils come up just when you feel like you might die from the cold and misery all around towards the end of winter. Even before the flowers bloom the tender shoots just barely out of the soil is a promise of sunny days and gentle summer breezes.

More of mine in our tiny backyard

Now I only have to wait six months before the daffodils come up.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

So much for choice

I've lost count of how often I've been told that I always have a choice. It does help to remind myself of that when I have to come to terms with a lousy situation I find myself in. Then again there are times when I feel 'choice' is one of my major issues these days. I am not philosophizing about life here, but speaking about choice of commercial products.

I miss the days when all I had to choose from was SR and Signal toothpaste. I liked the red and white stripes of Signal, but SR tasted better. I settled for the former because that was what we had at home and I vaguely remember a conversation about Signal being better. You just brushed your teeth and it was all good. When it came to soap, I think there was much more variety, but most people just bought Lux, including my family, because it was choice of beauty queens, or something like that. Now, if I said I use Sensodyne (because I am aging and brushed until my gums deteriorated, because I was told to back in the day when Signal was the big shot toothpaste) it would not be adequate. There are so many kinds of Sensodyne, and it is only one of a dozen brands, each with its own special kinds. The mind boggles.

The reason I am talking about this is because a while ago I was thoroughly frustrated shopping for some feminine hygiene product (that is what the aisle is labelled, the entire aisle dedicated to tampons and sanitary napkins). I had walked up and down the aisle for nearly half an hour, and that is no exaggeration. There was ultra thin, with wings, without wings, regular, overnight, head hurt from trying to decide what I needed. It all ultimately boils down to what we need, right? Why then is it so bloody hard? And why would I, in my ripe-old age be there not knowing what I need?! Because, they keep changing packaging and labeling on me, those bloody morons. I just wanted to walk away, but how could I, I needed the product, but didn't know which one to buy. I could ask a friend, but her needs would be different from mine, which is why we have such an array, right?

Lets face it. I am very picky and particular. So if the manufacturers stayed consistent then life would be a wee bit easier. I did buy something and I did not like it one bit but used it anyway because there is no alternate use for it (or is there?).  Now I have to go back and begin my monthly exercise routine walking up and down the aisle in my search for the next best sanitary napkin.

Oh the life of a consumerist in materialistic North America!