Thursday, March 13, 2014

A day at the Science Fair

Yesterday I had the opportunity to judge the local science fair again.   Not only do I get to meet other area professionals, but we get to mingle with the kids and read the posters.   The kids are all neatly dressed, and polite, and silly when they think the judges are not looking.  They range from the sublime to the truly amazing.   The best title yesterday was "Fun with Helium"  which I think was a middle school kid who worked with helium balloons from the party store.   The winner of our group was a kid (10th grader) whose mother got him access to a group of tissue samples with 15 years of metadata, a microtome, some stains for biomarkers, and he turned out a very sophisticated study of markers for prediction of how aggressive ductal carcinomas would be.  I shudder to think of the liability situation for putting a 15 year old in front of a microtome, but there you go.

As you might imagine, silicon valley parenting makes for a very high quality science fair.   Our winners feed into the Intel Science Fair, and those kids get impressive scholarships.

And I got a tee-shirt!  

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Poisoner's Handbook

Several months ago I read this most fascinating history of early 20th century forensic science in NYC (OK, I'm a biochemist, but it was still a good read).  I got it from my library.  Deborah Blum is factually correct but picks the best stories to tell about what you could find in the garden shed or the medicine cabinet.  Medical Examiner used to be a political position - this is the story of a medically trained individual who used science to research his cases.  Thus last Sunday I was delighted to find it on TV  Seriously, this is a fun way to spend an hour. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Nine envelopes filled with memories, ready to go

I have spent several days sorting through the memories in my mother's jewelry boxes.  The ultrasonic cleaner worked well, and things sparkled on the table.   I have some things for myself, of course, but I have assembled packages for her sister, nieces, and one dear friend.  Mom was into bling, so everyone got a piece or two of costume jewelry, but I also picked out a ring, bracelet, watch or some other piece I know she treasured and would have wanted someone she loved to enjoy.   A trip to USPS is in my immediate future. 

Next question, what to do with 28 cameo pins and 10 other assorted cameo items?  Not to mention the cardboard box of jewelry I will never wear? 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Picking up the remains of a life

We drove the MomMobile for 4 days from IL across the southwest, and then up to the bay area.  We were lucky weather-wise, and I always enjoy the grand staircase progression of cliffs where ever I cross the continental divide.  G has been such a brick, helping me move her entire home twice in a month, once to assisted living and then at the end.  Since we got home a week ago I have been dealing with stacks of stuff on my desk, closing accounts, paying bills, cleaning out a linen cupboard so I will have a place to put a few more quilts.  I have been soaking and drying a couple of them flat; some of them look OK without cleaning.  One embroidered quilt in particular had many small holes from years of kitty cats and numerous washings and looks too thin for further service.  But when your grandma makes a quilt, you mend it lovingly and put it where it can be seen when the cabinet is opened. 

It is sad to pack two lifetimes of cherished possessions and get it to fit into one car.   Now I have to figure out what to keep, what to give away, and what to try to sell.  Not like I don't already have a modest ranch house filled to the brim with stuff already.  Disposing of clothes and furniture was easy - it's the mementos lovingly stored in the cedar chest that are the hard part.  Wills from long-deceased great aunts, service medals from the armed service and corporations, the list is endless.  I'm tired, and need to get out of the house and go for a walk.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Paying forward

In my last post I mentioned how beautiful it was that one of the workers at the assisting living place where mom was took her two cats.  What I didn't realize until I got home and opened my calendar was the coincidence of the timing.   We got Louis the cat from my neighbor's vet.   His human died, the daughter didn't want him and took him to the vet to euthanize him.  The vet kept him in a crate in the lobby, where my neighbor saw him.  She called me from the vet and said there was a lovely male blue-point Siamese who needed a home and would I take him?  Sure, I said, how much trouble can one more cat be?  We no more got the cat into the house when my cousin called me to tell me my dad had died.  Six years later TO THE DAY some
lovely woman reached out to my mother's cats.  Isn't that sweet how things turned out?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

To be human is to live on a rollercoaster

My mother has died.  It was a good way to go, she evidently fell asleep and woke up dead.  I got to talk to her in the morning, evidently the last thing she did.  But the beautiful news is her two beloved cats are going to be adopted by one of the caregivers from the Lutheran village.  Kelly is 13, and a 'special needs' boy with kidney failure, but he gets to remain with Fifi for what remains of his life.  It is a beautiful outcome to a sad story.  I'm leaving today to lay my mother to rest with her George - the last thing I can do for her is to make sure she has her wedding ring on for the rest of eternity.