Saturday, August 18, 2012

Day 19 (Aug 17 2012)

Oh.  My.  God.   The cook made pizza.  And there was chocolate pudding with whipped cream and vanilla cream sauce for dessert.  Dinner was a resultingly giddy and delightful affair, full of chirpy people and happy conversation.  Such a dinner perks up even the tiredest, most weary, demoralized ears.

And it was good pizza indeed.  This cook is solid gold.  He made the pizzas then drove to the nearest restauarant (and around here "near" and "restaurant" are not exactly bedfellows) and baked them in a bonafide pizza oven.  And he made so many full (pizza) pies, that there will be leftovers (and I am so hoping that they will turn up at breakfast!  Yah!  That would be most excellent).

The other miracle the cook has worked in recent days was to work permanent red ink out of Juli's brand new but already beloved navy blue denim pullover.  She'd washed it once, to no avail.  Then she all but gassed us in the dry lab, attacking the stain with acetone and then paint thinner.  None of these activities escaped the notice of the cook, who has been imparted with the wisdom of his little old Polish lady neighbor.  The other evening saw him out on the steps scrubbing the offending stain out with nothing more than a bucket of water, a brush, and a can of hairspray.  HAIRSPRAY.  Consider that, all you hair product addicts.  Hairspray got out the permanent ink that neither laundry detergent, acetone, nor paint thinner could even begin budge.  Are you still planning to put it on your head?

In terms of science news, the calcite team has moved into "phase two" of their experiment and has vertically mixed their bags to remove vertical gradients in chemical properties and the distibutions of particles, phytoplankton, and zooplankton.  They also spent yesterday evening hunting down every single last copepod in the bay and put them in their mesocosm bags, to the collective groan of the one or two remaining phytoplankters.

Briva has started a second aggregation experiment, this time with water from the calcite mesocosms.  So far, however, no aggregation.  Keep your fingers crossed.  It's not clear that there is enough organic matter in the mesocosms for aggregates to form.  Which would make our work tomorrow collecting and measuring them much, much faster.  But would be quite disappointing.

Myself, today, after I was done with the things that absolutely had to be done, I decided to take a 2-hour mental health break and walk up the hill behind the house.  I went down to borrow Jussi's dog Morris, but discovered that Jussi was back from the mesocosm raft (he'd been out there helping Richard and Sari, who had a big sampling day today, too).  So I borrowed Jussi as well as Morris and went for the walk up the hill.  It was awesome! You really can learn wonderful things talking to Jussi.  Jussi is not merely a man of the plankton, an infinite well of patience, a stabilizing force, and an ambassador to marine invertebrates, he is also a man of the woods.  There is no berry he is not friends with, no bird he does not know the name of, and no tree that does not fascinate him.  He has also lived and, worked in and/or visited in the amazing, far flung places of the north you have heard of but never been too and which seem somehow otherwordly and unreal.  How many other fellows do you know have gone snowmobiling around Svalbard in the deepest, darkest depths of winter where you can easily get stuck for a few days in your sleeping bag in the lee of your snowmobile in a blizzard with little more for company than a couple of friends, some granola bars, and the gun you have just in case of polar bear? All in all, it was one of the nicest walks I've ever had.  Oh yeah, and there were these spectacular views of the surrounding glacial landscape.

Aug 17 2012aa-  At long last, a picture of the "brown cheese", the one that only appears at breakfast and is made from caramelized milk.  Jussi says that it also comes in a goat's cheese variety.  *fzzzzzt!* (that was the sound of my brain shorting out)

Aug 17 2012a-  There are cups of flowers everywhere here.  These are in the lounge and I'm not sure who brought them in.  The cook is alway picking fresh flowers and putting them on the dining room tables.  He also always lights candles for us, even at breakfast.  Apparently, when he is not cooking here, he is a sheep farmer.  All his sheep are up in the hills right now, though.  Isn't Scandinavia great?  Even the livestock get summer off.

 Aug 17 2012b- Another bunch of pretty flowers in the lounge.

 Aug 17 2012c-  Here are a sweet bunch that Jussi gathered the other day and put on the picnic bench for us.

Aug 17 2012d- Early into the walk up the hill , Jussi found a "pepper mushroom", something which clearly stymied the autofocus on my camera.  It also stymied my whole mouth.  Holy cow.  Licking it is like licking a habanero, plus your whole mouth goes dry.  "You wouldn't want this to be the only type of mushroom you brought home with you to put in the mushroom stew," Jussi noted dryly.

Aug 17 2012e- Carnivorous plant!  "Dog dew" I think Jussi called it in Norwegian.  In English, I believe, that is a butterwort.  In Latin, Pinguicula, possibly Pinguicula vulgaris.

 Aug 17 2012f-  Not blueberries, but tasty nonetheless.

Aug 17 2012g- Proper blueberries.  There were so many along the course of the walk, it's amazing we had any appetite left for dinner.

 Aug 17 2012h-  Wherever you go in the bog, the plants have their eyes on you.

Aug 17 2012i-  Dewdrop pearls and a fly on a spider web.

 Aug 17 2012j-  Not quite a lingonberry, but still tasty.

Aug 17 2012k- Another carnivourous bog plant. Maybe this was the one Jussi called "dog dew".  We call it sundew, or Drosera.  This might be Drosera anglica.

 Aug 17 2012l-  The "cow pie" mushroom.

 Aug 17 2012m-  Morris and Jussi lead the way.

 Aug 17 2012n-  Lizard!  Zootoca vivipara. One that has live babies instead of laying eggs.  Who knew?  Can you imagine how cute tiny little mewling newborn lizards must be?

 Aug 17 2012o-  The view towards the Trondheim fjord.

 Aug 17 2012p-  Looking the other way.

Aug 17 2012q-  Even Morris admires the view.

Aug 17 2012r-  Oh, look.  The calcite team has just finished sampling and is motoring back to shore.

Aug 17 2012s-  It's funny, from shore, the mesocosms look like they are on the very far size of the bay.  But when you climb up high, you see that is absolutely not true at all.

 Aug 17 2012t-  The inevitable (but very useful!) phone mast.

 Aug 17 2012u-  The landscape is truly majestic.

 Aug 17 2012v-  Seeing if he can spot the Faroes.

Aug 2012w-  The elusive and now slightly overripened cloudberry. Nearly worth their weight in gold 'round these parts.  It had a mildly berry + cinnamon sort of taste.

 Aug 17 2012x- Anthill!

 Aug 17 2012y-  Jussi inspecting the anthill.

 Aug 17 2012z-  Jussi has stuck a tall twig of grass into the anthill.  If an ant climbs to the top, we should have sunny weather tomorrow.

 Aug 17 2012za-  You're going to have to trust me on this, but that's three ants at the top of the anthill.  Tomorrow will be beautiful!

 Aug 17 2012zb-  Today we had swarms of kamimaze bees throwing themselves into the ocean (even more than normal;  it's a good thing they mostly float, or half the sinking flux in the mesocosm would be bee) and a plague of these pretty butterflies.  I hope these insects are not better forecasters of the weather, or we ought to be battening down the hatches right now.

 Aug 17 2012zc-  Sacked out dog.  I guess my foot makes a comfy pillow.

 Aug 17 2012zd- Sari mourning senseless zooplankton death.  Somehow the bottom of the heavy duty Schott bottle cracked off while the bottle was gently rotating on in the plankton wheel.  A perplexing mystery.

Aug 17 2012ze-  Marja may have won yesterday's Cutest Container award, but today Sari has walked away with the prize for Best Dressed Bottles.

No comments:

Post a Comment