Not All Viruses are the Bad Guys

Multi-colored Tulip Image Courtesy Pexels

We hear so many horror stories about viruses today, and every one of them are viewed as something terrible to take every precaution against. This is not to say that such things do not exist, but virus have been known to create genetic mutations in nature that have accounted for some pretty incredible things out in nature.

Tje tulip is one of those. Originally when tulips were first introduced, there were only solid colors and simple shapes we all recognize as everyday (not saying they are not beautiful too). But a virus caused them to mutate into these mixed types and then one of the most striking of all tulips came along – the Parrot Tulip. Below is an example of just one of the many forms.

Stunning springtime Flaming Parrot Tulip flowers against a white background.

In the day when these unique and beautiful tulips first were introduced, collectors sought them out and paid exhorbitant prices for just one of the bulbs. One bulb could bring a cost of four cows, or six pigs, or I think it was ten lbs. of butter, which was in high demand. Once the collectors got the bulbs, they would work with them in such interesting ways (you must read about it; it is fascinating). And so today we have thousands of types of tulips out there, thanks to the virus(es) what changed their DNA. Also, if you like to watch PBS, I watch things like NOVA all the time, and so perhaps I saw this on TV. However, you might find it on the Internet or in the literature of a plant nursery specializing in tulips.

I thought you all might be interested to know a tiny bit of my background to know why I would be looking for information about viruses to share with you. For a number of years in my younger life, I was a Regulatory Compliance Specialist (that is a fancy term for a specialized quality assurance auditor whose task it is to meet all the requirements of the FDA and other organizations that can get involved. Now this company happened to make plasma derivative products, which are used for things like AIDS, which is an acquired virus, or the thousands of other types of viruses that are auto-immune viruses, some rare that there are not enough cases to do proper research on them. Some of these viruses that still exist today are said to date back to Biblical times and to the twelve tribes. Many come from Eastern Europe.

Now in the medical world, things are classified according to their danger in their administration. At the top of the list of course are things like any heart implants, and that is pretty obvious. Plasma Derivatives are right up there at the top too because anything that goes straight into your bloodstream obviously will likely kill you faster than say a pill, but of course, as with everything, there are exceptions to every rule.

Well, when I was 64, I was among 400 of the employees who got laid off because the company was being sold to a firm in Spain, but something happened to which I am no longer privy, and so the company went out of business altogether. And so began another and most satisfying period of my life, becoming a substitute paraeducator (generally a one-on-one), a substitute aide, and a substitute teacher for special needs children (often with several issues all at the same time. I loved every moment of that, and though I could have been permanent (and was asked over the years on more than one occasion, I said no. I never wanted to do what most teachers do regularly, but to be able to work more directly with the children.

As a final note, I am recommending a book I am starting to read from my last visit to the thrift store: Robert Gallo, M.D., Virus Hunting Aids, Cancer, & the Human Retrovirus: A Story of Scientific Discovery. Once an M.D., and one of the most-cited authors of scientific literature in the world during the 1880’s, he served as Chief of the Laboratory of Tumor Cell Biology at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, and a two-time winner of the Albert Lasker prize, the highest honor in biomedical research.

I think a very healthy thing to do in these confusing and stressful times besides the obvious, is to use this time to educate yourself. You can get such books from places like Amazon, and I am sure you know others as well. It may well be available in E-book format. I wish you one and all the best of days, and ways to find something of beauty and joy every single day.

In a Strange World

Courtesy Pixabay

I looked out into the endless sky that met with the sea

And wondered if perhaps the sky

Might have swallowed the sea,

Or perhaps the Sea was devouring the sky.

And I wondered what the navigators of ships of old

Must have thought as they witnessed

This incredible sight.

Did they fear closing on the horizon only to find

It expanding beyond their imagination?

Did they begin to question where daylight began and night fell?

Did they wonder

About the birds above?

Were they falling from the ocean?

Talking to Rocks

A rock is a rock, but is it?

Today after a doctor’s visit, I was sitting out on a little circular border surrounding a large tree. It was just about the right height for a bench so I sat on the concrete flat area that seemed made to sit on. Inside that was a ring of rocks. To look at them at first, they were all about the same size and most were round and there was a bit of change in color. I picked up one and began to study it carefully. This one seemed to have one end cut or broken off, and it revealed a much darker and varied , somewhat smooth surface, as if I were looking into it. Down one side of that top area, extended a crack that seemed as if another part of it might split off. And crossing that seemed to be attempts to cut it with a sharp object diagonally.

Something drew me to pick up other rocks in that circle and to look at them. I guess sometimes it seems that, for example, perhaps all grains or sand, or in this case, all rocks in a group are similar in size, shape, color and texture. But in this case, the more I examined the rocks, I saw how distinctly different each one was. And I began to think about how each rock might have formed and what must have transpired to make it so different from all the rest. In my mind were so many questions coming forth, seemingly spilling out like a dam that was overflowing. How could it be that stones that likely all came from the same source/location could all be so different in texture, colors, shapes and sizes. Where was this magical place and what other surprises did it hold?

As I was pondering all these wonderful mysteries, my Lyft showed up and honked for me. I grabbed the one rock with the top seemingly cut from it and put it carefully into my pocket. I wanted to look at it once again at home and I wanted to ask it questions. One thing I learned today was that we should never even take a tiny grain of sand for granted. There is mystery and magic everywhere in this world.

Life is not always as it appears

Rare, four-footed goldfish

Things are not always what they seem in life. There is an old scene in the animated film, “The Point” by Nilsson, released in 1971 where the little boy, Oblio, is vanquished into the “Pointless Forest” by the evil prince. On his journey through the forest, he encounters Rock Man, who gives him a lesson in wisdom. “You see what you want to see, and hear what you want to hear.”

How many times is this true in all of our lives? What do we really know of our world or our universe except what our minds choose to believe or our eyes choose to see?

I have been thinking about creatures of this earth, and recently a conversation came up about the lowly slug. Everyone hated them, and most of the people were afraid of them. Yet, if you think about slugs, they have no means of self-defense. They DO have a bit of a shell inside, but they are easily stepped on and destroyed even with that. They do leave a slime path wherever they go that is created by the water they drink and which mixes with their bodily fluids, to be exuded along the way. They do have eyes located at the ends of their antennae. They sometimes come to a home and will get inside, even though there is nothing visible drawing them inside. And other than their little slimy paths, they do no damage or harm anyone.

I had never considered how sacred everything is in our universe until I searched on the symbolic significance of slugs. I will leave it for any of you who wish to pursue this further to find it on your own, but I will say that after I read it, I thought of how many things in this world I have feared or disliked simply because I never thought of them as being important or sacred in this world. Everything in this world, every person, every creature, every plant, and every grain of sand has meaning in this universe. We are not here by accident; we are the result of an amazing design – a phenomena that has occurred with incredible complexity of evolution.

All is not always as it seems. The tiniest particle in our world may be a chain in our evolution. We need to look closer at those things we take for granted, or that we think we know and perhaps are afraid of and/or dislike. There is always something new to learn and it is good to question ourselves when we encounter something we don’t understand in this world. Maybe, just maybe we have it wrong.

Accidental Art

 

Just what IS accidental art?  Doesn’t everyone who paints or does mixed media or art quilts or other art forms have to plan everything out ahead? How can it be art if it is not “designed?”

Have you ever watched a child creating art?  Children don’t plan their art.  They just start making lines and marks and coloring all over the page and generally using their full imagination.  There is a freedom and spontaneity that you cannot help but enjoy, even if you are a professional artist or person who doesn’t care for art.  It reminds you of some part of yourself that many people lose as we grow older and have to deal with the everyday issues of life.

This is my favorite form of art.  All of these pieces were created in a matter of minutes, often pulling scraps from my friend Jamie Fingal’s fabric scrap can or my own, and using a glue stick or pins initially to put down whatever pieces I found.  Honestly, none of these are planned.  They just came to be born as I allowed myself to go into my childlife, just playing and having fun.  They are all in various stages as I was making them. The flowers with the frog were from my boob prints, and so much fun to play with.  I don’t think any of these took me longer than 15 – 20 minutes to create in whatever forms they are here. There is no attempt to “match” anything, to be precise, and even the stitching that comes later on to finish them is just wherever my hand feels like guiding the machine.  I don’t need to put colors in the “right places,” or worry about whether it looks like it is “supposed to look.” The striped “cat” below was just a scrap of fabric I found in exactly the shape it was.  We used to give little blocks like this to friends who perhaps hurt themselves in a fall, or maybe had surgery.  They just become something as we go along, but there is no thought given to trying to create any particular thing.

Tiger Kittykit kat and the catepillar 1 (2016_09_03 07_58_44 UTC)Annies boob quilt for autism charity - My garden of Earthly Delights

 

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Annie's 15-minute bird 2 better (2016_09_03 07_58_44 UTC)