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.
lingonberry, but still tasty.
Drosera. This might be Drosera anglica.
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?
cloudberry. Nearly worth their weight in gold 'round these parts. It had a mildly berry + cinnamon sort of taste.