Category: flowers

An herb with a bad rep: National Dandelion Day

Today is national dandelion day. A day to celebrate a non-native herb (at least within North America), that over the past hundred and fifty years or so has developed a bad ‘rep’.

Dandelions poking out through the monkey-grass in the backyard.

The dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is actually an native herb to Europe and Asia, and was introduced to the Americas probably around the time of the Mayflower landing in Plymouth (1), and was then also introduced to Australia & New Zealand by European settlers as well. This wasn’t an ‘accidental’ introduction—the herb was brought with the settlers due to it’s numerous ‘medicinal’ benefits. One folk name for the plant in Europe & Asia is ‘piss en lit’ (‘piss in the night’) due to diuretic properties of the roots (1).

Prior to it’s ‘bad rep’ as an invasive weed (which—technically it is that as well), the dandelion was planted and harvested due to its numerous medical and nutritional benefits.

In terms of its ‘medical benefits’:

  1. As early as the 10th & 11th centurie, Arabian physicians were using it in medicine (1)
  2. Within China & India–it was used to treat not only liver diseases but digestive problems as well (1)

It addition to liver diseases and digestive problems, dandelions were also used to create remedies to other aliments such as baldness, toothaches, fevers, lethargy, and even depression (1).

In terms of ‘nutritional’ benefits, all parts of the dandelion can be consumed:

The flower head can be used to make wine, tea (1) or jam (2). A google search will turn up numerous recipes for all three. I may have to think of how to increase the amount of dandelions we have in the backyard so that I can possibly try to make dandelion jam (or tea) one of these days.

The leaves can be used in salads or soups (1).

The roots were used in also in tonics and teas. These ‘nutritional diuretics’ aided in both improving digestion and ‘flushing’ out toxins from the liver and other organs. In addition the roots could be roasted as well (1). 

People would start to harvest dandelion heads in late spring in order to have dandelion wine to drink later in the winter—it takes about six months or so for the dandelion wine to age before being ready to drink (1).

The dandelion has been shown to also be high in the following nutrients/vitamins (2):

Nutrients: Potassium, calcium & lecithin (phospholipids), magnesium, and zinc

Vitamins: Numerous B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5 & B6), Vitamin C, and Vitamin E

In terms of the benefits of having dandelions in your yard? Well, they attract bees & other pollinating insects. The flower head consists of numerous tube-like florets, each one containing nectar and pollen.

While they may not ‘look’ attractive in the yard—their deep taproot and root system actually helps to loosen the soil (especially ‘clay-based’ soils), helps aerate the soil (due again to their long root system), their roots also pull nutrients up for neighboring plants (that may have shallower root systems), and they also add nitrogen and minerals back to the soil—in addition to helping to reduce erosion (3). 

Basically prior to the past 150 years or so, dandelions were actually planted along side other plants in home gardens—not only for their nutritional & medical benefits, but because their roots systems helped make the soil better for other plants in the garden.

Mature dandelion ready to release it’s seed pods to the wind

So, maybe it’s time to reevaluate how we look at the dandelion. While it can be invasive, it can also be extremely beneficial to have within the yards as well. The flowers provide ‘food’ for numerous beneficial insects, and can even be harvested for sprinkling over a dinner (or lunch) salad in a pinch (just ensure that you haven’t sprayed your yard with herbicides). Also—who doesn’t love to pick a ‘mature’ dandelion and blow it, watching all the seeds disperse into the air.

References: 

  1. Rothfeld, Anne. “The Dandelion” June 7, 2016. https://circulatingnow.nlm.nih.gov/2016/06/07/the-dandelion Retrieved April 2, 2024
  2. “Dandelion” https://newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/dandelion Retrieved April 2, 2024 
  3.  Sanchez, Anita “Ten Things You Might Not Know About Dandelions” https://mofga.org/resources/weeds/ten-things-you-might-not-know-about-dandelions. Retrieved April 2, 2024

No Comments flowersoutdoorsRandom Celebration Days

Another attempt on 101 goals in 1001-days, with 44 things to do before turning 44

I’ve tried several time since 2018 in doing a 101 goals in 1001-day challenge. I’ve even tried to expand it to 100+ goals in 2002-days. My problem has always been the same: I make the list, and then I only occasionally look at it again to see how I’m doing in terms of the goals—and some of the goals never seemed to feel like ‘mine’. They felt like goals I should put down because they’re ones that ‘society’ deems acceptable.

Last year I also tried to a ’43 things to do before turning 43’ list of goals. The problem: I made that list/goal idea during a really rough time—my mother was still in the hospital, and I thought making a ‘smaller’ list of goals and a ‘tighter’ window would result in the goals being accomplished.

I did manage to accomplish about 44% of the goals that I set last year—as I counted even semi-accomplished (or started) goals in the ‘check’ category. Ones I did start or attempt were considered ‘not done’.

So, I’m three weeks and a few days late in posting this particular post—it is a combination of a new 101 goals in 1001 days list, and a ’44 things to do before turning 44’ goal list.

What’s the difference: I’ve actually picked a handful of 101 goals to try to get accomplished (or at least a good head start on) by my birthday next year. In addition, there are several additional goals at the end of the list that are on my ‘44 things to do’ list that aren’t on (or fit with) the 101 goals in 1001 days.

So what is what? The long list is basically the 101 goals that I’m aiming to accomplish in 1001 days. Items that are bolded are from the 44 things to do before turning 44 list. I’ve determined that I’m going to be having ‘scheduled’ updates—every two months for the 44 things before 44 list, and every 100 days for the 101-goals (plus yearly updates around my birthday).

The areas that I’m focusing on for both lists: career/professional growth; personal growth (including areas of health/wellness, spirituality, and personal finances); and crafts/hobbies (tied with career). Why these areas? Because, they’re the ones that if I focus on will also have the most impact in other areas of life (such as social life, friends/family, contributions/donations and physical environment).

So what are the goals? They include:

  1. Start my freelance science/health/medical communications business
  2. Transition to a remote science/health/medical communications position
  3. Monetize blogs and set up an Etsy store for the crafts and so-forth
  4. Launch a YouTube channel
  5. Launch a podcast
  6. Increase blog/website(s) traffic (aim for 500+ views/day)
  7. Social media following of 500+ across different channels
  8. Launch at least one online course
  9. Hit 10K (and then 12.5K, 15K, 20+K) followers on LinkedIn
  10. Go to at least one scientific conference
  11. Present at least one scientific conference
  12. Renew professional memberships (ASBMB, ASCB; at least once)
  13. More interaction on LinkedIn
  14. Go to at least two professional networking events
  15. Attend at least one blogging conference
  16. Attend at least one author-reader conference
  17. Develop a passive income stream
  18. Complete at least 18 different e-courses
    • Finish at least two CSA advanced programs
    • Finish at least four Udemy courses
    • Finish at least six Skillshare courses
  19. Read at leaet 100 different nonfiction/historical fiction books
    • Read at least 44 nonfiction/historical books before Sept 20, 2024
  20. Become fluent in Spanish
  21. Become fluent in German
  22. Become proficient in French, Norwegian, or Swedish
    • Learn to say hello and thank you in ten different languages
  23. Complete at least one 365-day photography challenge
  24. Editorial calendars, to-be accomplished lists for both blogs and various social media accounts
  25. Learn python coding
  26. Create a physical vision board and update it regularly
    • Based on my vision/definition of success
  27. Learn basic sign language
  28. Get out of debt
  29. Increase my savings account 500x
  30. Increase my retirement account 500x
  31. No spend challenges
  32. Finish at least one personal finance book and e-course
  33. Get into the best shape of my life
    • Learn about body confidence
    • Create a happiness plan
  34. Daily mediation (work up to twice a day)
  35. Stretch daily
  36. Hold a 90-second plank
  37. Develop (and stick with) a consistent exercise schedule
  38. Make a candle (or two, or three, or more)
  39. Make some mosaic art & resin art
  40. Make some soap
  41. Make some tie-dye clothes/accessories
  42. Draw/doodle, color, and frame a original drawing
  43. Draw/doodle, paint, and frame a original piece of art
  44. Sew something I’d wear
  45. Start my own jewelry line
  46. Make a memorial quilt
  47. Start another afghan (or make some scarfs to donate)
  48. Upload/update photography pages (namely bird pages) on creative/hobby blog
  49. Complete at least another six cross-stitch projects
  50. Create my own coffee-table photography book
  51. Create my own calendar using my nature photographs
  52. Create at least one piece of wood-burnt art
  53. Monthly new & full moon goals
  54. Daily oracle card drawings
  55. Create my own Wicca/pagan altar & update throughout the seasons
  56. See a coral reef
  57. Tour a vineyard
  58. See the Northern Lights
  59. Go to a Renaissance Festival
  60. Visit at least three countries
  61. Visit at least one ‘new’ national and/or state park
  62. Visit at least one ‘new’ national and/or state monument
  63. Visit at least one ‘new’ zoo
  64. Visit at least one ‘new’ aquarium
  65. Visit at least one ‘new’ state
  66. Visit at least one ‘new’ city
  67. Fly out and/or land at three ‘new’ airports
  68. Make fresh pasta
  69. Learn to make sushi
  70. Learn glass etching
  71. Get a haircut and highlights (light purple, blue, and/or green)
  72. Various top ten author/book series lists (creative blog)
  73. Keep at least three plants alive
  74. Start a succulent garden in a pot
  75. Design a science-based board game
  76. Declutter and downsize
  77. Create a minimal wardrobe
  78. Swim with whale sharks
  79. Put in at least one flower garden around the house
  80. Become better informed in regards to politics
  81. Become better informed in regards to economics
  82. Pick a non-science topic and develop ‘niche’ knowledge on it
  83. Research 30 prominent women throughout history
  84. Write a minimum of 101 mini-book reviews
  85. Write a minimum of 100 blurbs/reviews on different research papers/topics
  86. Start a junk journal
  87. Listen to a different podcast everyday (30-120 day challenge)
  88. Yoga for a minimum of 30 days
  89. 30+ days of iPhone photography
  90. 30+ days of doodling
    • Create a coloring book from various (uncolored) doodles/drawings
  91. 30-days of coloring in coloring books
  92. Solo dance parties (minimum of four to five songs)
  93. 30-days of making rubbings of interesting surfaces and textures (leaves, flowers, tree bark, so forth)
  94. Film progress of one (or more) 30-day challenge
  95. Learn a new country (or fact) a day
  96. Do a Sudoku or crossword puzzle daily
  97. Jumping jack/squat challenge
  98. Watch a different TedTalk each day (30-120 day challenge); plus a 100-200 word summary
  99. Create my own cookbook
  100. Ten minutes on the exercise bike (work up to a 5+ mile bike ride)
  101. 30+ days of mind-maps

The last few things from the 44 things to do before turning 44 list:

Complete at least five 30-day challenges (some of which are listed above)

Read at least two ‘new’ banned books

Read at least two ‘new’ classic books

Read at least one ‘new’ trilogy (or longer) series

Finish creating a inspiring work/craft area

Write a letter to my future self (again)

So that is my combined 101 goals and 44 things list…technically could call it a 107 goals in 1001 days…but splitting things up may help me actually complete more of the goals. In terms of updating the lists: I’ll be updating my progress on the bolded items every 60 days (basically the 20th of every other month) and the first update will be Nov 20 2023. In terms of the 101 goals–updates will be every 100 days, with yearly updates on my birthday (so there will a 365 day and 730 day update in addition to all the other updates). The first update for the 101 goals will be Dec 30 2023.

No Comments 101 GoalsBookscareerCraftsDay TripsfinancesfitnessFitness ChallengesflowersFull Moon GoalsHealthLevel 10 LifeLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesNational ParksnatureNature PreservesNew Moon Goalsno spend challengesodds and endsoracle cardsPersonal Development ChallengesPhotographyprofessional developmentRecipesReflectionsSciencespiritualityState ParksSunrises/Sunsetstarot cardstravelUpdatesvision boardsZoos/Aquariums

Whirlwind afternoon in the White Sands National Park

So the latest #throwbackthursdaytravel page is up under the travel tab. This week’s entry was our whirlwind afternoon in the White Sands National Park in southern New Mexico (though at the time it was still only a National Monument, it had been promoted to a National Park later).

Gypsum dunes with the mountains in the distance

This is actually the world’s largest gypsum dune field at 275 square miles. If you camp in the back country or hike any of the trails away from Dunes Drive, it is easy to see why parts of various movies (such as Independence Day) were filmed within the area, with rolling dunes and flat plains of gypsum as far as the eye can see.

While the dune field covers a large area, one doesn’t want to become ‘lost’ within it–especially since the park is also within the White Sands Missile Testing area and adjacent to a military base.

Our afternoon was spent basically taking the scenic drive through part of the park (the Dunes Drive is a round trip sixteen mile drive, but one should also account for time spent taking pictures, hiking up and down the dunes, and even possibly sledding down the dunes), hiking up some of the dunes and taking pictures.

Bleached earless lizard spotted within the park

While I may have only seen a single lizard, I was able to get pictures of several different wildflowers that are able to grow within the gypsum dunes:

Gypsum Centaury growing in the sands
Desert Mentzelia growing in the sands.

I would love to go back to the park, and actually try sledding down a dune, hiking a little further than what we did, and even trying to camp out in the back-country for a day or two.

No Comments flowersNational ParksnatureoutdoorsPhotographyreptilestravel

Throwback Thursday Travels: Exploring the Big Room at Carlsbad Caverns

So another #throwbackthursdaytravel page is now live under the travels tab: Exploring the Big Room at Carlsbad Caverns.

One of the many formations within the Big Room

I actually meant to get this page up and going several years ago after the trip to New Mexico, as it was going to be part of the New Mexico travel section (an side note–I haven’t added any type of organizational pages to the travel section, but it has been an idea that has been bouncing around in my head). But once we got back from vacation, work dominated everything else, and it kept getting pushed further down the to-do list.

Well, the page is up and running now. We only spent about a half of day within the park, and most of that was spent taking the natural entrance trail down to the Big Room:

Looking towards the natural entrance trail

The natural entrance trial is a little over a mile straight down, though it curves at times and has a very steep descent. If you have breathing or heart problems–there is also an elevator within the visitor’s center that will take you down to the Big Room as well.

Once within the Big Room, there is a little over a mile trial that you can follow around the cavern (start at the ‘exit’ from the natural entrance trail and you can either end up back at the trail or at the concession stand/elevator area). We spent probably a total of three hours entering, and then exploring the Big Room:

Another view within the Big Room

There are also numerous trails that you can hike on the surface within the park. They do have a list of essentials that one should have within their backpacks for hiking listed on their site. We only did the shortest hike (basically a half mile round trip) on the way out of the park, but did stop at another trail head to get some pictures.

Since there wasn’t much hiking to be done–most of the pictures I got on this trip were of the cavern, though I did mange to get several pictures of various desert wildflowers. There are also numerous mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and insects found within the park as well. We didn’t really spot any–but we did hear the rattlesnake a time or two.

Red flowers on very sharp branches

Have you ever been to Carlsbad Caverns? Was your time spent around the caves or did you hike one of the trails? Which one, and did you spot any wildlife?

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Highlighting Nature Photography Day: Diversity of Wildlife at Boomer Lake

The North American Nature Photography Association designated June 15 to be Nature Photography Day.

Red-eared sliders swimming in Boomer Lake

Water snake gliding through the waters at Boomer Lake

Their first ‘Nature Photography Day’ was back in June 2006, and their goal is to promote the enjoyment of nature photography, and through the use of the camera advance the ’cause of conservation and protect plants, wildlife, and landscapes both locally and globally’.

Hybird Baltimore and Bollock’s Oriole spotted in Boomer Lake Park

They (the North American Nature Photography Association) also run a photography contest every year marking the holiday as well. This year the challenge started on June 4 and ends tonight (June 15). You are able to enter multiple nature photographs throughout the week and a half that the contest runs–I’m sad that I only saw the contest this morning, but one can either download the app (iNaturalist) to your phone or sign up on the site (iNaturalist) to submit pictures for the contest. Though even after the contest ends–you can still share pictures through the site.

Cedar Waxing in a cedar tree

I will be setting up an account via the site (and deciding when to also put in an application to join the North American Nature Photography Association) some time this afternoon, so that I can share a few pictures that I’ve taken over the past week and half (Luckily my last walk up at Boomer Lake was on the 4th).

Double-crested Cormorant spotted at Boomer Lake Park, Stillwater OK

I’d decided years ago that nature photography was going to be one of the photography ‘sub-areas’ that I’d focus on for several reasons: 1) I enjoy being outdoors and exploring, 2) I like to ‘look’ for various animals (such as birds or insects), and 3) it is almost always a ‘free’ thing to do when exploring new areas.

So here are some of the nature photographs that I’ve taken over the past few months that I would rank among my favorites so far for the second quarter of 2021:

Nymph on an wildflower

As I was walking back across the bridge, I noticed this little grasshopper nymph sitting in the wildflower. Since I’m not an entomologist, I’m not sure what nymph stage this insect was at or if it is even a grasshopper.

Possible Orchid Oriole spotted at Boomer Lake Park

I spotted this bird on one of my walks, and I think based on the red flank that it was possibly a male orchid oriole.

Green Heron preening itself at Boomer Lake

Just about a hundred yards or so after spotting the possible Orchid Oriole, I spotted a green heron preening itself in one of the covers. Also captured in the picture was a grackle and a couple of turtles sunning themselves.

Two scissor-tailed flycatchers sitting in a cottonwood tree

And finally–the state bird (the scissor-tailed flycatcher) is in the area again for a few months. This beautiful flycatcher is a resident from about late April through late August/early September (though sometimes still spotted in late September or early October).

So these were just a small number of pictures that I’ve taken over the past two months since I’ve been trying to get back into at least doing a monthly walk at Boomer Lake. Now that summer is here–I will probably only be doing a single walk a month at Boomer (unless really nice temps hit), so I will also use the backyard and creek area as inspiration for practicing nature photography as well.

Reference for Nature Photography Day: www.nanpa.org/events/nature-photography-day

How are you spending nature photography day?

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Hiking the Trails at Devil’s Den State Park: Throwback Travels

Since it looks like summer is here to stay, I’m slowly catching up on things. It is amazing how much more you can get done when it is too hot and humid to be outside (I think we have a heat advisory through tomorrow night).

So, I decided that I would try to see how many #ThursdayThrowbackTravel posts I could generate this summer and fall–both as blog posts and as pages under the travel tab.

The first entry for the ‘series’ is looking back at a trip we took to Arkansas a little over four years ago, when we visited Devil’s Den State Park. The park is located probably halfway between Fayetteville and Fort Smith within the Ozark National Forest.

The park offers three main outdoor activities: hiking (or walking), mountain bike riding, and horseback riding (as long as you supply the bike or horse). We went for the hiking/walking aspect. They also offer either camping or cabins for rent.

Cabin rental within Devil’s Den State Park

During our three to four day stay; at least half the day was spent out on different trails (that were either easy or moderate in terms fo difficulty–so not that much climbing or stairs involved).

There are approximately 13 trails within the park, with one or two being set aside strictly for mountain biking. The others you can hike, and on most of them–you also need to watch out for people on mountain bikes or horses.

Deer spotting

Taking these kind of trips take me right to one of my ‘happy places’–being out in nature. I enjoy trying to catch glimpses of different wildlife, seeing how many different birds I can spot, and taking numerous wildflower photos.

While the world is slowly opening back up–I’ve been slowly thinking of trying to plan a trip for sometime between 2022-2024 (nice time frame, right), though I know it may not be an outdoor trip (I prefer taking nature based trips with other people, safety in numbers), but possibly a trip to a new city/state or even country–if I’m feeling up to air travel (will have to see how things play out pandemic wise).

What is your favorite state park to visit? Then where is your favorite hiking trail?

No Comments bird watchingbutterfliesflowersinsectsnatureoutdoorsPhotographyState ParkstravelTurtles

Turtles & throwback photos: celebrating national trails day

Did you know that June is the ‘Great Outdoors Month’?

It started as the ‘Great Outdoors Week/end’ in the late 1990s under President Clinton, and was expanded under the presidents that followed. It has only been the past two years (since 2019) that it was officially designated as the ‘Great Outdoors Month’ by Congress.

It was designed as a way to get people outdoors and being active, plus showcase how outdoor activities are economically beneficial as well for everyone.

Within the month, there are also ‘specific’ days that get celebrated as well, such as:

National Trails Day (1st Saturday of the month–so for 2021, that would be today), and National Get Outdoors Day (2nd Saturday of teh month, so this year it will be on June 12th).

So, today is National Trails Day which was established to promote awareness to the massive trail system in the country that is maintained by the local, state, and federal governments.

Luckily, I live just a few blocks from a great walking trail–Boomer Lake (the trail goes all the way around, plus there are mini-paths that branch off from some of the sidewalk). While there are still areas that I haven’t really explored (during the summer there are ticks to be worried about, and the the cold temperatures in the winter), but I do try to get out on the trail at least once a month (if not once a week). I’m also going to try to get to Sanborn Lake and see what type of wildlife is around there as well sometime this year.

Red-eared slider seen sunning itself at Boomer Lake

There are other hiking trails that are nearby at one of the larger area lakes, but not within walking distance. Plus, walking/hiking the trails at Lake McMurtry requires you to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes. At least at Boomer Lake, it is only water snakes (and I don’t get close to those either).

When we managed to get up to northern Minnesota for vacation, there were always numerous hiking trails on the north shore of Lake Superior, and then just walking the roads around the area lakes also allowed for nature photography and watching. Depending on the time of year that we would go up there–it would either be in time to look for waterfalls, or take pictures of the different wildflowers growing.

Following the river (which I’m pretty sure was in Temperance River State Park)

One nice thing about hiking along the rivers, you could see where they entered Lake Superior:

Temperance River entering Lake Superior

Sometimes you can even follow the trail all the way down to the mouth of the river. Then you are able to see all the rocks that have collected over the centuries.

Smooth rocks in the river

I do like trying to find agates on the beach–on the rare occasion I’m successful, but most of the time I’m not (though since I’m not a geologist–I may have missed quite a few of them).

Wildflowers

I’ve managed to do several other small hikes over the years (these will possibly be their own pages under the travel section–coming soon[in addition to possible pages for the these hikes as well]), and hopefully will be able to do a several more in the future.

Where is your favorite hiking trail located, and is it an easy, medium, or hard hike?

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I spy with my little eye–crow poison in bloom.

So I noticed this wildflower blooming around the base of one of our crepe myrtle bushes.

False garlic, aka crows poison blooming in the yard

What was unique and interesting about the flowers–I didn’t plant them there. Some animal (whether it was mammal or avian) ate the seeds of the flowers somewhere else and used this area as their ‘bathroom’ at some point over the past few months.

So false garlic (also known as crow poison) is an early spring wildflower that is one of the first to appear in bloom, and depending on the summer weather may even flower again in the fall.

This is a wildflower that is native to a good chunk of United States (from Virginia to Oklahoma and upwards from Ohio to Nebraska; the only state in the ‘area’ that it isn’t found in is West Virginia), Mexico, and South America (Peru, Uruguay, and areas within Argentina and Chile). It has also been listed as a rare or threatened plant in two states (Indiana as crow poison, and within Ohio as false garlic).

While I didn’t plant the flowers around the bushes, it was a nice little pop of color this spring, when so many of the plants didn’t really flower that well (our peach bush was budding out in February when the killing freeze came through, that also took out our crepe myrtles–though at least one has growth near the base of the plant; the jury is still out on the other four).

Before these had flowered, my dad noticed others in the yard-but mowed them down thinking they were just weeds–little did we know that they would give beautiful white flowers. If more pop up this fall, I may try to ‘transplant’ them to anohter area, where we can appreciate the flowers and color better.

Reference: https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=NOBI2

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It’s not a weed–it’s an herb: National Dandelion Day

It is also going to be the start of yet another photography challenge. I’ve decided yesterday that while I’m going to try to do another 365 day photography challenge, the main rule will be all pictures have to be from this year forward with a few exceptions (such as way-back Wednesdays, throw-back Thursdays, and flash-back Fridays).

So every day (hopefully) will be a ‘new’ picture for 2021-forward, unless on Wed/Thur/Fri I can’t decide on a ‘new’ picture and decide to do a ‘older picture’ from 2020-earlier.

Dandelions in the yard

Did you know that April 5th is also National Dandelion Day?

While many people consider dandelions to be ‘weeds’ and invasive plants–it is actually an herb.

Dandelion seeds ready to disperse

Dandelions have the ability to grow just about anywhere and can be found on every continent except for Antarctica.

While they may ‘interrupt’ the esthetics of a manicured lawn–they actually have numerous benefits, such as being rich in vitamins A, B, C, and D.

The leaves of the flower are edible and have been used in both soups and salads.

The flowers have also been brewed into wines and teas as well.

Native Americans use the flower for medicinal purposes as well.

Some of those medicinal purposes can include reducing inflammation, aiding in digestion, boosting the immune system, regulating blood sugar, and possibly reducing cholesterol.

Dandelions in the yard

I remember picking numerous dandelions in middle school and learning how to make paper from them in art class–something I may try to do again this spring/summer as a fun little craft project.

We leave dandelions growing in our yard–in part to help the insects (such as honeybees), but also because they’re green and are helping to keep the dirt and dust from coming into the house. They hardy enough to handle dogs running over them constantly.

Do you see dandelions as a weed to be removed from the yard or as a flower/herb that grows where it wants?

No Comments flowersnaturePhotographyRandom Celebration Days

Photography Challenge Day 13: Ruby-throated hummingbird

So the winner of today’s photography challenge is the ruby-throated hummingbird.

I’ve always been intrigued by hummingbirds—they’re small, quick, and they beat their wings constantly.

Lately, I’ve also been trying to remember that when I was younger I felt a little like a hummingbird.

In that I could dive into a subject, immerse myself, learns as much as I could and then move on.

Ruby-throated hummingbird at the rose-of-Sharon

I did this for class projects: there was the paper over the Culture of India (and I covered everything from architecture to music to philosophy), to diving into the history of Peru (though I don’t think I ever wrote a paper over this—so that may be something to go back to) and medieval England.

I’ve always been fascinated with birds—I have quite a few bird encyclopedias in my storage unit, plus numerous articles that I had clipped out of the papers as I was growing up to make a scrap book on them.

So what does fascination with birds, culture and history of other countries, and everything else have to do with hummingbirds?

Ruby-throated hummingbird at another rose-of-Sharon

When I had taken the Clifton Strength Assessment test back in both 2017 and 2019, my top strength was learner.

This trait fits people who have a love of learning (though they have to be drawn to the topic), love digging into new things, love researching topics and ideas and gathering information.

These individual have been likened to hummingbirds in that they will deeply investigate on subject before moving on to another—similarly how hummingbirds will investigate flowers for their nectar before going to the next flower.

Until I took the test and saw the top strength as learner—I had almost forgotten how much I enjoyed learning, reading, investigating, and putting the information together in some format.

Getting my undergraduate degrees took awhile—because I was ‘bouncing’ between ‘flowers’ (aka different subjects)—but I did manage to get my two degrees and minor (though now looking back, I should have taken that last six hours of sociology to get that minor as well).

Graduate school, allowed me to dive deeply into a subject that was still fairly new and I was learning different techniques and systems. The first postdoc was where the love of learning started to dwindle—while the topic was slightly different from grad school—what I was being taught really wasn’t, and therefore I got bored (only realizing now, exactly why I was getting bored so early—if I had realized it then, things might have gone differently had I asked for either another project or figured out a way to strike up a collaboration with another lab).

The second postdoc allowed me to dive into another system and I learned quite a bit—though I didn’t like being told to read up on other things in my spare time. I learned in both staff positions—more so in the first (only because I was working with undergrads in several different labs on several different projects) than the second. It has taken about ten months of self-reflection to realize that one of the problems that I had with the last position—I was bored; while I had been told I could ‘collaborate’ with other labs on projects, the only labs I could think of would have required me doing experiments and those aren’t something that you can schedule to only take 1 to 2 hours a day.

As I now move forward—I have to remember that I’m like a hummingbird, where there needs to be ample ‘flowers’ around for me to sample; I may hang around one or two longer than others, but at least I won’t get bored.

This is something that I will keep in the forefront as I start looking towards either my industry transition or freelancing/working for myself–I need variety to keep busy–so for me (at least mentally) it is better to be both a jack-of-all-trades and a ‘specialist’.

Have you taken the Clifton Strength Assessment Test? What was your top strength?

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