Showing posts from September, 2016

The grafted tree

Ohio I'm on my parents' couch right now, listening to my mom and sister pore over a box of my great grandfather's belongings. I'd be over there too, but Mom already showed me the box in August. My dad is at the kitchen table behind me, looking something up on his laptop. My sister's fiancé is upstairs. Ah, it's good to be in Ohio. All of us at trivia night I told you I'd be spending some time in the Midwest before settling in Masschusetts, and that's exactly what I'm doing now. It worked out for Kendra and Seth to visit Ohio while I was in limbo, so I wanted to make sure I was here and could see them. They live in Michigan and don't make the trip south very often - this is actually their first time at the house in Ohio. It's been fun for me to tag along as Mom showed them the town. Mom is so enthusiastic and knowledgeable - we joked that she could record her voice and sell copies of a guided driving tour of Ohio. Of course we ha

The roadtrip: Part 6

Ohio After almost a week on the road, Mom and I made it to my parents' home in Ohio. We chose a route that took us through 5 states, across 3 rivers, and through very hilly terrain. We started out by crossing the Mississippi River from Missouri into Illinois, then across the state line into southern Indiana. A bridge across the Ohio River took us from Indiana into Kentucky, then across a state line into West Virginia. Finally, we crossed the Ohio River one more time to enter Ohio. I had been through Kentucky before but never spent much time there. I loved seeing the rolling hills, the horse farms, and something I hadn't seen since we left the Oregon coast: trees! I mean, of course there were sparse trees in each state in the West, but never dense forests lining the highway. It was always short, dry grasses or farm fields. Kentucky is the first time since Oregon that we've seen a solid cover of trees. Now that we're in Ohio, Mom and I will be staying put for a few

The roadtrip: Part 5

St. Louis, Missouri The "famous hill" outside Columbia, MO, which offers the most sweeping view in the state. Today was a short driving day. Mom and I are finally in the Midwest, so we are getting back into familiar territory. We made our way across Missouri today, through much of Mom's old stomping grounds. I didn't take as many pictures of the landscapes, just because the terrain was more familiar to me - much of my extended family lives in Missouri, so I had been in the state many times before. We used the opportunity while in Missouri to spend time with family. Most of my relatives live in or near St. Louis, so we all gathered at my cousin's house for dinner. It was an awesome evening, and I'm so glad for the opportunity to see my family in Missouri!

The roadtrip: Part 4

Kansas City, Kansas Kansas After leaving Denver, we headed east across Colorado and into Kansas. I always thought of Denver as a city in the center of the Rockies, but we were out of the mountains almost as soon as we left the city. We dropped over 4,000 ft of altitude in just a few hours. The landscape in eastern Colorado was characterized by rolling hills and farmland, and it flowed effortlessly into Kansas. As we drove, I saw plenty of wheat fields, corn fields, and more cows than I could count. There were also numerous wind farms on the horizon, with regularly-spaced windmills as far as the eye could see. With all the flat terrain in Kansas, wind travels almost unobstructed. It's easy to see why the Wizard of Oz opened with a tornado! We finished the day in Kansas City, where Mom and I have extended family. We don't often get to see our Kansas relatives, so we took the opportunity to spend time with them. It was so much fun! I'm officially over 2,000 miles aw

The roadtrip: Part 3

Denver, Colorado Day 3 of my cross-country roadtrip adventure began at the Great Salt Lake. Neither Mom nor I had ever seen it before. (A family roadtrip when I was growing up took us to southern Utah, but we missed the northern part of the state that trip.) We were both curious about the lake and decided to check it out while we had the chance. I certainly learned a lot. Great Salt Lake The modern-day Great Salt Lake is a small remnant of a much larger body of water, Lake Bonneville, that covered parts of Utah, Idaho, and Nevada earlier in geological time. The modern lake is only 12 feet deep on average but has 4 times the salinity of seawater. It's a terminal lake, meaning it has no outflow, so any trace of salt carried into the lake from the surrouding drainage area gets trapped there as the water evaporates. Because of the high salinity, the only animals in the lake are small crustaceans called brine shrimp. Birds come from all around to feed on the brine shrimp, leadin

The roadtrip: Part 2

Salt Lake City, Utah The second day of cross-country travel took me through southwestern Idaho and into Utah. I have just a few things to say about Idaho. First, the landscapes are absolutely beautiful. Gorgeous. Stunning. We started in terrain very similar to the Oregon Badlands, then watched as the land flattened out and became covered by potato and corn fields. The closer we got to Utah, the more mountains there were. The second thing I have to say about Idaho is that it's obvious Idahoans love their state. We saw exits for towns named Paradise Valley, Bliss, and Eden. Now that I'm in Utah, I just can't get enough of the mountains. As my mom and I were walking to dinner, we kept our eyes to the sky and the horizon, just drinking it all in. What a gorgeous, gorgeous state. "In eastern Oregon, they make such a big deal out of the Oregon Badlands. Sure, it's beautiful terrain, but where I come from, the land looks exactly the same, and we just call it..

The roadtrip

Ontario, Oregon I am so tired. I'm currently on the eastern edge of Oregon, after a 10-hour drive across the state. Yes, it takes that long to get from the coast to the Idaho border. The route goes over the coastal mountains, through the Willamette Valley, over the Cascade Mountains, across the high desert, through the Oregon Badlands, then over another mountain range. So many ecosystems! A flat, straight road in Oregon's high desert I'm currently moving from Oregon to Massachusetts, and to get there, I'm driving. Well, not just me - my ever-so-supportive mother flew out to Oregon and is making the trip with me. I'm grateful for the added safety her presence provides, and besides, my mom is just fun to travel with. For our first day on the road, we set off from Coos Bay and headed inland. I had never been east of Willamette Pass, the highest point in highway 58 in the Cascade Range, so the eastern half of the state was a total mystery to me. The desola

I of the storm

If I could pick a song quote to begin this post, it would be "I of the storm" by Of Monsters and Men, the Alex Somers remix. In fact, I recommend you listen to the song while reading this post. Find it here . Listen to the distant bird calls and the mysterious crackling sounds. Breathe in the voices that come and go like a vapor. Open your ears to the vast, dusk-colored emptiness that is this song. This song is what it sounded like as my ship steamed south from the Arctic, and large red jellyfish dotted the sea surface, which was glassy and eerily calm. R/V Polarstern , August 2011. This song is what it sounded like when I sat on a box of life jackets the night before a cruise and wrote a long letter to a friend by the port lights. NOAA ship  Nancy Foster , September 2012. This song is what it sounded like when I laid on the deck with JB and LR and saw ten shooting stars in an hour. R/V Thomas Thompson , May 2014. This song is what it sounded like as I sat in my e

All of me

"All of me Loves all of you Love your curves and all your edges All your perfect imperfections" - "All of me" by John Legend I walked up to the cottage, a tray of coffees in one hand, car keys in the other. The early morning air was damp, chilly. I could see heads of bull kelp on the sea surface just a few yards away. I knocked on the cottage door and heard someone shout "open!" from inside. I turned the handle and let myself in. And there she was, already beaming, sitting on a kitchen chair with a head full of curling iron. It was her wedding day. OIMB's Boathouse Auditorium (the same room where my defense was held) re-decorated for the wedding.  Friends, in my last official act as an Oregonian, I served as a bridesmaid for my labmate Caitlin's wedding. I had been looking forward to this day for a long time - about a year, actually. I planned my move around it. The wedding was at OIMB, and everyone did their part to make it happen


Friends, I am happy to inform you that the cornerstone of my dissertation, my dropstone paper , has been published by Marine Ecology Progress Series. I first saw dropstones in photographs of the Arctic seafloor in 2011, and I've been working on an analysis of their communities in one capacity or another ever since. Whenever I give my elevator speech about my dissertation, I tell listeners "It started with dropstones..." because truly, these random rocks on the high-Arctic continental slope launched my interest into isolated hard substrata and island-like habitats in the sea. The publication of this article is a victory for my co-authors and me, because it represents years of hard work. I'm very happy to finally see it in print. Find the article here:

Top ten things I'll miss about Oregon

Crater Lake, one of my favorite places in Oregon. 10) Oregon's stratified and interesting geography. Oregon is one of few places on Earth where the ocean and the mountains are within driving distance of one another. In the winters, I could throw my snowboard in the car, leave my apartment in the early morning, and make it to the slopes by 9. I loved knowing the names of the rivers I crossed over as I drove north, seeing the landscape transition as I headed east. Oregon is a very beautiful state. 9) All the random weirdos. Oregon has a reputation for being a weird place, and if you're wondering what I mean, just watch a few episodes of Portlandia . Sure, the eclectic state has its drawbacks. When self-expression is elevated to the highest possible good, the resulting communities are superficial - people spend so much time finding themselves that they fail to bond with anyone else. But there are also good sides. I am much more open-minded than when I arrived here in 2012,

The land of ducks and beavers

How many times have I retrieved my car from an airport parking lot and driven back to Coos Bay? Far too many to count. How often have I been pinned between the coastal mountains and the Cascades as I head south on highway 5? How often have I passed the exit for highway 58, leading to central Oregon, and chosen instead 38 toward the coast? How many times have I prayed for no elk to appear on the road as I raced forward into the darkness? Far too many to count. The chimney is only about a foot and a half long, but it is HEAVY. I'm back in Oregon now, and everything seems to be right where I left it. My apartment is still in disarray with half-boxed belongings strewn about. The town is still quiet; the sea is still calm. The air is as hazy and humid as ever. I actually went in to the lab yesterday because we had a visitor. A student from the University of Washington drove down to chat with me about image analysis. She had a photo mosaic from a series of cold seeps off the Or