Archive for February, 2012

We study them to make sure they behave!

When you’ve been doing this as long as we have the way we have, you sort of forget that you are actually practicing science/art! In the beginning, we worked hard to read until our eyes bled. We wanted to know what other scientists had found that worked. We wanted to absorb the data, feel the methods, develop hypothesis…then, we went out on our own and began to attempt to regurgitate it all out into the world.

It was amazing what we found that didn’t work. It sounded so sure on paper. It was cool what did work – some of it just intuition. I think we mostly have more water and mud in our veins than blood and now we think and breathe streams. We can walk up, smell the mud, catch some bugs, have Josh look at the fish, and know which ones need us the most.

Sometimes we go through a lot!

Most people have no idea what we do. What we do is, in Jacque talk, very simple. We study streams. We see what’s wrong and we prescribe a sort of medicine for them so that they function better and make the world a better place. I like to tell people that, not so many years ago, it was normal for some company to have a guy drive a backhoe in a wiggly line and then let the water meander. That was stream restoration in the past.

We found all those wiggly ditches. Companies spend millions of dollars fixing them now because they don’t work right. That’s what we do – fix wiggly ditches and make them act like proper streams (or as near as we can) and we don’t build streams with backhoes much anymore. We like to do things a little differently.

So, here’s my attempt to explain some of the ways we do things.

We start by studying real pristine streams of all kinds. We study them to death. We live them, breathe them, smell them, taste them and generally go to sleep with them until we are them! We take what we learn and literally build streams that will look just like them. We fix sick streams to act more like the proper ones.

Things that should be there.

Don’t beat me up all you nay sayers….we don’t put back microbes and every grain of frigging soil….this is reality! We aren’t god…

We put things in the streams that should be there so the living things can be there too. We help simulate many years of flow that would have carved a new stream. We try to mimic as much of what nature gives to make a new stream! We can’t do it all, but every day we try to give more and more.

We watch the baby streams and the streams we’ve fixed. We make sure that they are behaving and not acting up. We fix them more if need be. We count things like bugs and plants and trees. We take out nasty things that could ruin the place. We love them, nurture them, care for them, are proud of them, and hope that one day – you will too.

That’s what we do. And it’s really cool – and we love it!




One of the first samplings of Lyrical Science! Enjoy.

Just when you think you have everything under control, something goes terribly awry! At least it seems that way when you have the kind of field day we had day before yesterday. We were set to perform three macroinvertebrate samplings in an unknown small system and it sounded like the perfect day for us bug nerds! NOT!!!

It looks like a nice place. I won’t go into the details about what the little stream looks like for fear of breaching the wonderful relationship we have with our client….suffice it to say that…it isn’t pristine. We discussed ahead of time the fact that we would probably find icky bugs too….it is in a transitional state of development. Our job is to come in, evaluate in great detail the state of the system, make recommendations, oversee enhancement, monitor recovery, and later – enjoy that fact that we helped make it better.

We don’t expect drinkable water, park-like conditions, or fluffy conditions. We expect a certain amount of ickiness! We began our collection. Once I began fishing around,WITH MY BARE HANDS. So, without further adieu….

This Photo is for Shock Value Only


  1. Make squealy noises – doesn’t affect the leeches behavior but it certainly gets out some of the squigglies!
  2. Perform a mental check on tucked in-ness…did you tuck in pant legs, shirt, etc…?
  3. Revisit why you do this for a living.
  4. Pretend that you will know when a leech latches onto you  and starts sucking your blood (which will not happen – they first spit out an anesthesia so you will not know until TOO LATE)
  5. Pretend that it won’t happen to you….ha ha ha ha ha….ha ha ha
  6. Immediately think of all the horror movies you have seen about leeches!
  7. Notice how small and hard to see they really are! Have you just never noticed them before?
  8. Make squealy noises again – hey man – they are creepy.
  9. Remember that you wore short socks and short boots…..ha ha ha – you should have seen the look on Jessica’s face!!! PRICELESS
  10. Make sure you do a thorough leech check….those suckers (ha ha) can be so small!

    Lurking Leeches

Finally, remember to check twice,  also, check this out for really gross and entertaining information about leeches. Like – they have two suckers, some won’t feed on blood, if taken off incorrectly, they can vomit their grossness into your bloodstream…and more fun facts!

In the beginning, there was John…..(and he wanted to play God)..


Here’s one of the first and best! Enjoy!

Lesson 7 – Things you Need – And Don’t Need.

We have recently been nominated for several peer-to-peer blogger awards. These are always a real treat as they come from those who live, work and play here in the blogosphere and it means a lot that we are noticed among millions of blogs!!

 ClaudiaJustSaying…..nominated us for the Kreativ Blogger Award – Thanks so much!

Cindy at Enclosuretakerefuge…nominated us for the Versatile Blogger. She is so sweet!!

I know there were duplicate nominations so I have proposed that we graciously accept the nominations and thank you all for such warm recognition from such amazing bloggers. We are among royalty.

Please continue to enjoy what pour out of us….it’s real, not fiction! This is our lives digitally recreated in type and we hope you like.

We have a lot of fun at work. I would love to tell you otherwise, but I would just be lying. The sad part is that sometimes we don’t. If we are not having fun, it’s probably because we are doing something somewhere that is dangerous. This happens more that we admit. Our motto “It’s Perfect” covers most of these occasions, but occasionally, we come upon a situation that is just too much for any phrase.

Dark Mud

The conditions we work in are usually nothing to write an article about. You know we go to really wild places – but we also go to State Parks, recreational areas, farms, and ranches. So, basically, it’s a mixed bag. There are those dark days, where we are a little too giddy in the truck on the way because we know where we have to go that day. Or, there are those other days….where we don’t know until we get there.

Dark – not like the absence of sunshine – dark like unknown…..dark things are the worst. We see a lot of that. Dark water, dark paths, dark woods, dark mud, dark things….that isn’t usually something that makes us giddy. Anytime we face one of those dark things, we change. We become quieter. We ask each other more questions. Each person takes watch for the others. We become a pack. We protect.

Dark Things (Photo by Michael Leary)

We are away from those things you find comfortable. We are not allowed to carry a weapon of any kind. We gave up machetes a long time ago when we learned to make our way more simply. When we are out there, and the dark things are near, we are animals. We see things that you wouldn’t. We hear every crinkle of the leaves. We can tell if the wind changes direction. We see tracks and scat and smell them….those dark things.

Dark River - oil Robert Simm of Winnepeg, Canada

The air is electric when we are in this mode. We sweat and laugh nervously. We forget what we were saying just a moment ago because we see something everywhere….we are on alert.

These times, these times when we are not us but are something different….these are the times I know that we have changed. These are the times I realize that, like the things we see and hear….we have become dark. We walk bravely into the murky water, we slog smoothly through the bog, we slink through the forest, not as intruders, not as us, not as things that don’t belong,

but as dark things….

They Have Arrived!!! Get Them Today!

The new v-neck FANCY LOGO Chicks with Ticks shirts are in!

Pink Shirt with Dark Chocolate Logo






They are available in Pink with Dark Chocolate logo &

White with Black Logo!

For a limited time, in limited quantities, v-neck Black logo shirts will be available that are tie dyed with natural Florida dyes. Go to the store and order yours now!

You all know by now that ticks are nasty little buggers. They hang stealthily (it is so a word) on the tips of leaves waiting for warm-blooded hard workers like me and you to wander close enough that they can sink their nasty little claws onto you. Once aboard, they creep their nasty little way into the darkest reaches of your warm sweaty body where they  nibble until they find a juicy bit – then they sink their vicious head into your skin and begin to feast on your blood (yeah – I could lie but that’s what they do).

Some of you are concerned that I am a tick hater – that I am biased against these little fellas and am only helping give them a bad rap and making it hard for those who are FOR ticks. I don’t care! Ticks care nothing for their reputation or my opinion or they would dine politely on something other than my ass!

I thought it would be helpful to list a few good ways I have learned to remove them:

  1. While holding a beer in one hand, heat a needle with a lighter and pierce the tick while spewing some comforting  bull crap to the victim. This piercing will cause the tick to remove head and later die. The victim will be traumatized forever unless said victim is our puppy Bella who could care less if you rub her belly.

    Nasty Little Buggers.....

  2. If you cannot find a needle, skip the piercing and go straight for burning it. Hold the lighter close enough to heat and scare it out – be careful not to singe or totally burn up the victim – if the burning up of victim occurs – refer to first aid manual.
  3. Carefully grab the tick firmly and gently twist while pulling softly. This will cause it to release its jaws and you can pull it out safely – unless of course the victim is freaking out because they don’t think that is a very good way and are wiggling.
  4. Various viscous fluids can be used to smother, choke or otherwise make the damn thing let loose (oil, vaseline, rubbing alcohol, fingernail polish) This all sounds great but takes a long time – you might as well-knit the darned thing a sweater!
  5. Tick Remover tool….sounds good right – ha ha – you try that one!

Whatever method you use, the victim will be grossed out, uncomfortable, and probably not happy. Be prepared with candy if under 21 or beer if over….if the victim has four legs just feed or pet it. Ticks suck….REALLY!

(((This is for entertainment purposes only – please don’t inundate me with proper tick removal methods. That is no fun)))

(((And “YES” that is a close up of a tick – don’t you hate them worse now....)))

Chapter 16 – Leave no Footprints

It’s something to walk for hours in boggy mud and look back and be able to see where you came from. We have had the distinct displeasure of working in some places where you would look back and see nothing but a slight trail that faded every second you watched. It makes me think of how short our lives are.

I attended the funeral of a dear friend’s father today. I sat amongst his loved ones. I heard the prayers. Sang the hymns. I shed tears for my friend’s loss – so soon after the loss of his mother. I can’t even imagine how short life must seem to my friend today. Far too short I imagine.

I have left my mark.

We are here on this world for a short time. We work so hard each day to leave our mark – we shout out to the heavens that WE WERE HERE. We carve our names in tree trunks and stick our hands in wet cement. We want future generations to know exactly who we were and that we were important. We use a lot of energy making our marks upon this earth.

I thought today of how hard I work to make my mark – oh, it’s a different kind of mark. No one will know my name. I am not a famous scientists writing unique ideas or principles in dark ink upon paper. I am not a heady philosopher thinking of new ways to live our lives. I am not a great poet or artist mopping colors across the canvas so that the world will stand open-mouthed before my works.

I am one of many who will never be known. Millions will see our work. Thousands may remark at how lovely they are or how amazing it is to see something so beautiful. They will never know our names, or sing our praises. They may sit quietly and wonder how this beautiful scenery came to be.

This place is someone's mark. Seriously!!

I thought how ironic that someone, someone who is working hard to create a great masterpiece and leave their mark upon the world, may sit beside a small clear running stream never knowing that that is my mark. How ironic….and how beautiful. I wonder whose marks I walk past each day. The long dead woman who planted a garden where there was none. The family who planted an oak each year someone was born – I stand now in their garden, I sit under their oak and write….how ironic.

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