Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Great Loss

As I write this, I am completely devastated. I can't speak, so I thought this would be the best way to express my feelings. My major professor from graduate school, and one of the most influential people in my life, passed away last Friday at his home. I missed the services.

George Folkerts was an incredible person. His passion for nature, conservation, biology and field biology will never be matched. He taught me so many things... about science, and about myself. There are memories that I have forever in my mind of class trips we took, singing by the campfire and hiking, standing with our arms outstretched around a huge tulip tree in the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness, and George lecturing us on the "real world." His message was simple - the pursuit of knowledge is the most important thing in life, and untouched areas of nature are the "real world."

George was the only person that I ever met who could believe so much in God and evolution at the same time. He made me stand with leeches attached to my legs in the middle of a North Carolina swamp, and he told me I better not cry, that they wouldn't hurt me. He made me realize that I could overcome my fears in the pursuit of knowledge, and I will take that lesson with me always.

I got to see George about two months ago. He met Hays and me at his favorite place in Auburn, Buffalo's. Our visit was short. We had plans to go into the field this spring. He looked good. I am SO glad that I had that last visit with him.

George had a wonderful, full life. I cannot even describe to you all how many lives he touched, how much valuable conservation work that he did, and how many smiles he put on people's faces each day. I know that I would not be the person I am today had I not known George. He was a wonderful teacher, and an even better friend.

This picture is from the first day of our three week journey in the Southern Appalachians.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Deck The Halls With Tacky Sweaters

So sorry I haven't blogged in a while. I was SO sick last week with the most terrible cold! I missed two days of work, and I try so hard not to miss! The cold could have been exacerbated by the party that I went to last Saturday night. Sarah and Heather hosted a great tacky christmas sweater party!

I have to give props to a certain thrift store here in the Ham, right near my neighborhood! The Briarwood Thrift Store was so well organized, they had all of their Christmas finest hanging together in the ladies section, so I didn't even have to search for the tackiness, it was all right there. Hays found a lovely sweater and turtleneck very easily as well. SO if you need clothes for certain themed parties, the Briarwood Thrift Store is a great place to go, and proceeds benefit the school! Here are some pics from the party:

I cannot explain how hard I laughed when I saw Trey. He looked like Dwight Schrute ready for an "Office" Christmas party.

Friday, December 7, 2007

My friend Beth

I have officially received my first online threat to be disowned. Apparently sometimes when you mention people as part of a group, but don't mention them by name, they get offended. Well, my dear cuz/friend Beth, this is for you.

Let me explain Beth to everyone. Beth may be the shortest person that I know. She is also very unique. She moved to New York, and once she moved up there she developed this funny accent. Every once in a while she comes home and asks "What is a grit?" And I have to say "Beth, you lived in the South for 21 years. You know that they are gritS, with an 'S.' Now stop acting too cool for everyone." Just kidding, Beth never acts cool.

In all seriousness, one of the best qualities about Beth is that she did move to NYC and get a big fancy job where she works all of the time, but she is still one of the most down to earth people I know. She was nice enough to bring all five of us "Gadsden Girls" to NYC on her ticket, and lead us all around, even though I am sure we were embarrasing tourists. And she is SO smart. Smarter than anyone I know.

Another interesting fact: Beth and I became friends in second grade. One day she ran up to me in our second grade classroom and said "Meredith, we are cousins!" I said "What?" Turns out our grandmothers are first cousins, so we are third cousins.

Beth, I hope you enjoyed this. Please don't disown me!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

My girls

We all have friends from different places in our lives. For example, we make friends in elementary school - high school, then we go off to college and make new friends. Most of us don't keep up with many of our old friends, but some of us do.

When I sit and think about my different friends, I realize that if I could divinde my life into "eras," they would be in this order:

The Gadsden Era

The Undergraduate Era (divided into two periods, The Freshman-Junior Period and then That Period During Which I Lost My Mind)

That Period During Which My Mind Was Really Gone

The Jessica, Corrie, and Loren Era (my mind found itself)

The Post-College Era

I think that is really wonderful that we manage to find people that we need during each different stage. For example, I had a great group of friends when I was in Gadsden that helped me stay grounded and remember who I am. We had a tight group, and we each had our own different tastes and little roles within the group. Now we weren't perfect, we got into stupid high school fights, but over the years we have become a type of family. Sometimes, our friends, like my Gadsden friends for me, stay with us and stay important to us throughout the years, and sometimes they don't, which is okay too.

Amanda, of course, has been close to me throughout my life, but she is not the only one. There was Laura T, who I was close to for a while, but I have NO idea where she is now. Then there was Fran, who I am lucky enough to see at work almost every day. Catherine, who taught me SO many things and took care of me (since I had lost my mind and all). I don't get to see her as often as I like, but when we talk it is like nothing has changed.

Then there are those friends who mark a turning point for you. Jessica, Corrie and Loren are those girls for me. We lived together when I was in my last year of school and without them, I would not be the person that I am today. When we moved in, I knew Jessica, and not Corrie and Loren, but we all became friends so FAST! We had SO much fun those months that we lived together, and they helped me through a lot of things. Their actions may have been simple or common sense to them, but they were meaningful and profound to me. Of course, it was during that year that I met my wonderful husband, too!

Then I moved to the town where I am now and I made some more friends, and got closer to some that were just aquaintances. I have been lucky enough to become close to some of Hays' friends' wives and girlfriends. I have some great girlfriends from work, and they are very special, too!

I feel so lucky when I think about the friends that I have. I probably don't tell them enough, because I am not good at remembering to send cards, letters, or emails. I hope they all read this and know how important they are to me.

If I can give any advice to anyone, try to stay close to your friends and help them when they need you. You never know when you will need them!

This was the Jessica, Corrie and Loren Era, on Halloween. Were we "Simply Irresistable" or what?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

New Poll!

Notice the poll that I posted! I will be asking for your opinions from now on, on various issues and photos. The first one is obviously my brother's new hat! He is a very handsome, stylish guy! I wanted pictures of him in his other hats, to see which one everyone liked best, but Sandi asked him and he said "No way." So this will have to do.

It's a ....

GIRL!!! My best friend Amanda found out Friday that her soon to be arriving bundle of joy is, in fact, a girl!!! So, Alyson, I hate to say it, but I TOLD YOU SO. My neice has a name, and it is Emily Renee. Congrats Amanda and Benji!