Tag Archive: women in science


Itchy and Scratchy

That’s right, I’m itchy….and scratchy. No, silly, not the cartoon characters from The Simpsons….SERIOUSLY! I have discovered what happens when you wear far too many layers in the hot Florida sun.

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Prickly heat – heat rash – or whatever you wanna call it! I was trying to be smarter than the average nerd working out in the Florida sun (104 degrees). I wore layers so that I could shed them as I needed. Only problem, you know me, I got caught up in my work and forgot to shed layers.

So, instead, I have this amazingly sexy rash ALL OVER! I hate to admit it – but now is the perfect time – I was wrong! Yep, make your calendars folks and watch the icebergs grow – cause Hell just froze over. I was totally wrong to even think for one moment that I was going to remember my clothes.

“Why, Jacque? Why would you forget something so important to most gals?” Well, I am definitely NOT most gals. SO, while I was busy looking at my survey gear and constructing a designed creek plan, I just wandered around in way too many clothes.

So, lesson for the day, wear the minimum and bring the maximum. Pack it and keep it handy. Remember, weather changes all over the world at any time! Even MyRadar can be wrong….so make sure you have what you need to stay cool, warm, dry, bug free, sun free, and safe! If you aren’t sure, pack more! If you don’t need it, so be it – but if you don too much or pack too little, you might get caught in a storm, or you just might get heat rash!

For those who are unfamiliar, heat rash is simply sweat trapped under your skin. Sounds harmless…

Image result for heat rash

Now, someone give me some tips for how to treat it!! PLEASE…

 

Forget Black

The cracks, even the cracks of her feet were black with earth.

Her hair matted with black and hanging limp and wildly at her ears.

Her hands were stained black and there were small scars where the work showed through.

And just when it seemed she couldn’t get any blacker,

her heart stood still with the black mud.

Her eyes shed black tears that smudged her filthy cheeks.

Her mouth oozed.

She had stayed too long in the dark wet. She was one of them.

Yet there she crouched. Sobbing and shaken.

Her precious work torn asunder by those who spoke sharp words of machines.

All she knew lay raped and stranded in the bright sun.

It would be theirs tomorrow. Neat and shiny.

It would be organized and proper and clean.

It was always so sad to see them like this. Naked and lost.

No words would come to stay them from her treasure.

She would silently suffer.

It might kill her….

Yes, she would die if not for the others. They always come.

They take back their own into the dank woods.

Who knows what horrors lie there.

God it must be dreary and strange.

Oh, look, it must be time to go. The sun is sinking.

 

 

Brrrrring on the New Year

Happy New Year 2016 Images | New Year 2016 Quotes

That’s right, bring on the new year. I have just about had it with the last one. In fact, if this one isn’t better, I am quitting years.

The problem with last year is tenfold…didn’t go outdoors enough, didn’t camp enough, didn’t surf enough, didn’t tromp enough, didn’t climb enough trees, didn’t fish enough…..so….plan is to change that.

“But Jacque, last year wasn’t all bad!” Duh…of course it wasn’t. I have an amazing family, great kids, a job I love, and the world is my oyster. Problem  was that I forgot that the world was my oyster…and let it be my crab trap.Image result for funny oyster

So, if, like me, you let 2015 make you it’s bitch, here’s some ideas for how we are gonna show 2016 who wears the pants in this year…

  • Write a bunch of adventures on paper, fold and put in jar, take turns picking one out – and YOU HAVE TO DO IT
  • Pick up a copy of One Tank Trips
  • Get a map of your area that includes parks and such – make it a challenge to cross them all off with a visit
  • Let the family vote on a new activity to learn together
  • Call me to book a fun Guided Tromp in the woods or kayak trip
  • Go camping – or glamping if you don’t like tents
  • Try to go to different beaches or forests or both and collect a souvenir from each spot and make a brag shelf

Whatever you do – DO IT! And…

DO IT OUTSIDE! And…DO IT NOW! And…DO IT TOGETHER. 

There’s no time like the present…and no excuses!

Kick 2016’s ass!

 

 

As Jacque mentioned in previous posts, our team has gone through lots of changes (and challenges) over the past year. I’m sorry for my long absence, but it’s been difficult for me to dig out the words I’d like to say. For now, I will simply say that I dearly miss my fellow Chicks with Ticks and think of them often and fondly.

 

photoWhat inspired me to come out of blog hiding is that I had the opportunity to visit some wonderful preservation lands the other day, and I wanted to share! I recently joined the Board of Directors of a central Florida-based land trust, called Green Horizon Land Trust. *Note: this is a volunteer position, I have not changed jobs* For those of you who don’t know what a land trust is, it’s a non-profit organization whose goal is to protect land from being developed by putting it under conservation (either fully by purchase/donation or partially by easement). The Nature Conservancy is an example of a very large, international land trust who many are probably familiar with. The land trust I’m now a part operates at a much smaller, more local scale– but it still makes a big impact!

 

photo3The preservation lands I visited were small parcels that you may never even realize are right there in your own community. They had trails winding through wetland and upland habitat types, exposing one to a wide diversity of plant species. Benches were located along the trails to provide a space to relax and observe wildlife (we saw swallow-tailed kites and gopher tortoises) and stunning vistas (lakes and the famous Bok Tower). Some even had geocaches hidden away, hoping to be discovered.

 

photo2I encourage all of you out there to not only enjoy your state and national parks, but to also enjoy smaller scale preservation lands like county nature parks and land trust holdings that may be practically in your backyard. They might just be the best places to see wild things since they aren’t on most people’s radar!

 

ps -The blackberries are ripe for picking in the Florida wilds right now!! (more on that to come)

 

 

Reuse – Recycle – Restore

IMGP0093That’s right folks, we are talking about going green – only in a very different way! Recently, I became part of a unique-to-me method of recycling. We harvest wetland sod prior to mining operations. That sod is then used in restoration and reclamation sites replacing disturbed wetlands. What I find most exciting about all this – IT WORKS!!!

We recently laid some obligate (plants that ONLY grow in a wetland) filled sod in a reclamation site and it’s beautiful, green, wet, and filled with life! It’s as if the wetland was just lifted up with all it’s biota, microbes, plants, bugs, worms, and soil and placed back in the landscape. What’s even more exciting is that it is being colonized by higher life forms just weeks later. Wading birds, small mammals, reptiles….I wonder if they recognize their previous home.

I have heard a lot of negative talk about this practice. Some say you risk spreading invasive species and bacteria….I say PHOOEY….you run a much higher risk when you attempt restoration from scratch – opening disturbed soils to disease, nuisance species, and just plain erosion. What we have found is that if cleanly cut and rolled, NO opportunistic nuisance species seem to thrive! This is just the opposite with open disturbed soils.

I just wanted to share how exciting it is to be a part of saving something in the landscape! It’s nice to stand in the middle of something and know that years from now, someone will stand there and say “I hope they don’t mine this wetland”…it’s nice to smell mucky soil just after the backhoes and dozers leave.

So, next time you are taking that amazing photograph of a wood stork or some lilies, wonder if it came from some faraway place in the world!marsh

Repost – Ancient Landscapes

Once connected by an ancient land bridge to the deserts of the southwest, the Lake Wales Ridges State Forest boasts some similar species that were later trapped in this area when the ice receded. The wave action and shallow waters created a most unusual landform which is still visible today from the air.

Hiking out of the scrub and into the cypress dome was quite surprising.

What you will find on the ground is equally interesting. In the midst of shallow grassy marshes, there are two cypress domes. I know – that’s crazy right – cypress domes don’t belong on the ridge. Well, they are there. And they are gorgeous. Of course they differ from the swampy cypress domes in that they rely on water travelling underground through seepage rather than flowing over the surface.

Just standing in the middle of the dome after hiking through scrub habitat dominated by white sand and scrub oaks – sharp things and arid conditions – I looked around in total wonder at the soft ferns and mucky loam I was standing on. This seemed to me to be a very unique kind of forest. I felt lucky to be taking photos while my field partner Kevin rejoiced in the beauty as well.

It’s not hard to admit that we feel fortunate to be able to see these places. Truth is, everyone can as they are part of the Lake Wales Walk In Water WMP and are totally publicly accessible. You can even bring your horses and camp! IMGP0082  http://www.floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/lake_wales_ridge.html

As always, these areas are home to some very special plants and animals. Even the soil can’t be disturbed. Please enjoy with your eyes and take no prisoners!

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The transition from upland scrub to cypress dome!

 

Fly like an eagle

Coolest video ever — It’s an eagle flying through the Alps with a camera attached to its back. Enjoy!

http://www.thelocal.fr/20130918/video-viewers-blown-away-by-birds-eye-view-of-chamonix

*Note: you have to scroll down the page a little bit to find the video.

peace river

Peace River overbank

I’m sitting here on my couch because my softball game got POURED OUT for the 4th freaking week in a row. Our Suwannee River work got cancelled because the river is too high. Alafia River State Park isn’t renting out canoes because the overbank flows are unsafe (though a friend of mine went anyways and almost tipped his kayak and lost his quite expensive camera in the process). It’s normal to get afternoon thunderstorms in Florida during the summer, but this is too much!

A few months ago, Jacque and I were driving home from assessing some swamps in Arcadia and she said something to the extent of “those thistles look funny, it’s going to be a REALLY wet summer.” I know this girl has intuition, but really? Can you really tell it’s going to be a wet summer because some spiky plants look funny?! So I made a mental note, half hoping there would be a drought so I could make fun of her. She even put her predictions in writing (https://chicks-with-ticks.com/2013/06/05/something-in-the-air/) so I would have proof if she denied saying it!

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Wet marsh

Well, turns out Jacque should have placed a bet – because she would have hit the jackpot! We have just been pummeled with rain. Overall, the Florida peninsula receives about 40 to 50 inches of rain a year, with most of it occurring during the “wet season” (June – October). Living in Florida is more like living in the Tropics than it is like living in the rest of the U.S. where there are four distinct seasons. Here we really just have two distinct seasons: a wet and a dry (November – May). During the dry season, many of our small streams go completely dry (we call these intermittent or ephemeral systems). Only our larger creeks and rivers are wet all year long. Yup, this is one of the many nerdy things we have been studying over the years.

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Florida peninsula, just waiting to be pummeled

horse creek

Horse Creek overbank

Florida is just the perfect storm for storms, if you will -– the excessively hot summer temperatures heat up our large expanses of water, causing water to evaporate and form large clouds that then drop rain all over the state as the winds from the Gulf and the Atlantic blow the storms across the state. And obviously Florida is just hanging out in the middle of those two water bodies, just waiting there in the wide open to get hit by a hurricane. Oh joy! So overflowing rivers and creeks are a very natural occurrence in Florida, and Florida streams are often overbank for a good chunk of the year. These flood events help “shape” the river and its floodplain and help cycle nutrients (food). Throughout Florida’s history, many streams and wetlands have been ditched to get water off a property. This takes away an important ecological component, one that Jacque and I are often working to restore. So maybe all this rain isn’t so bad and I should just hush. And pat Jacque on the back for being right. Again. Dangit!

Plunder Branch near Hwy62

Getting wet is fun!

Have a great weekend everyone! Even if it means getting a little wet 🙂

“We will miss you.”

That’s right. I won’t say who wrote this to me today. That would be tattle telling. I will say what it meant to me.

It meant the world. It meant that the team that was heading out and leaving me behind at the office would miss me. And I them.

It’s funny how our team functions. It’s almost organic. Like a living organism that has a life all its own. We feed it our personalities, we care for it with our passion for our work, and water it with our symbiotic natures. That, my friends, has made one strong living thing. TEAM

I will hold the fort down in the office. I will answer emails and keep moving some project work forward. I will think of them on the river. I will miss them. I will miss the their input.

They will work on the river. They will think of what I might say about something in the field. They will miss me. They will miss my input. 

It’s not what you plan to do when you go to work. You plan to work, get paid, go home, pay bills, and wake up and do it all again. With us, it’s not that way. We wake up, We go to work, We LOVE our work, We LIVE our work, We get paid, and we can’t believe it!!

After having done many things in my life to make money, I can honestly say that you are a fool to continue feeding your passions and dreams to a time clock. You should stop now. It’s simply not good for the living thing. It’s not good for YOU!

So, think about what you wanted to truly be when you grew up. Think about how you can make yourself happy. Think of how risky it might be and what amazing adventure and excitement might come with that kind of change.  

And then reread this – and think of how amazing it is to be a part of something alive….that makes you feel alive. Even when you can’t be there. So, you just gonna sit there? Read this again!!

Then – go out there and make it happen! GO ANYWHERE!

Well, in the beginning, we really had no idea what we were doing. At least not as it related to surveying. We understood the basic principle but hadn’t really done it right in the field. John wanted to survey a particular stream that he had worked on for another project. Can’t say the name here so we will call it Moon Bay.

John was in a very good mood (at least for now). We parked, and proceeded to the stream to find a reach to survey that represented the “natural” system. Funny thing about Florida, there probably aren’t any truly natural systems left. It’s actually a sad thing. You go miles into the wilderness and voila’ there’s a balloon on a nylon ribbon – deflated and sad-looking – ruining the wildness – making fun of it.

Anyway, John found what he wanted and we began moving up and down the system flagging each place for survey. John has a back issue sometimes. We were ducking under a lot of trees that had fallen over the stream in the last big round of hurricanes in 2004. He began to lose his sense of humor – this same sense of humor which has us in stitches most of the time.

We finished flagging the reach and went to get the survey equipment. Kristen and I had practiced and thought we pretty much knew what to do. We set up our temporary benchmarks (we are not surveyors so it’s all temporary). We began to shoot the stream survey. John continued to lose his sense of humor. It was hot, uncomfortably messy, vine ridden and lots of ducking and climbing. I remember Kristen and I thought how awful this site was. There was so much to go through, vines, palmettos, and underbrush. This was hell!

Somewhere near the end of the reach, John checked the survey data. There was a problem. A serious problem. At some point someone had made a mistake and now the whole thing was useless basically. John was not happy. I was not happy. Kristen was not happy. This meant that, at some point, we would have to come back. The very thought of fighting this mess of vegetation was too much to bear.

It made me wonder if i could really do this. I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I would never want to come and do this with just Kristen and me. This place was too wild. There were too many dangers. I wouldn’t be able to see her at some points in the survey. Would we ever get this right? It was all too much to even think about. We were mortified.

I would and will never forget this day. I was sweaty and scratched to heck. I was upset and doubted myself. I felt like I had let the team down in some way by feeling this way too. I felt that I had wasted a chance to make an impression on John and Kristen too. How could this had gone so wrong? Now, it had to be done all over again. The fear, the stress, the pain, the risk of busting the survey again…..it just seemed impossible to bear.

It was going to be hard to make myself do this again. This was horrid. I hated the way I felt – DEFEATED.

 

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