Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Taken earlier today at the INBIO parque in
San Jose, Costa Rica.
Arg. How is it that I never have enough time in ANY of my days? I am still in San Jose and will be leaving at the butt crack of tomorrow morning (pardon the grievous paronomasia) for a day-long journey to, um,  somewhere remote. Somewhat unbelievably, Ron is also still in San Jose, yet way across the city (insert sad face). How is it possible, even for us, to be in the same city and yet separated? Seriously, I need to examine my life choices. Incidentally, I also feel the need to examine my life choices every time I refer to "Facts from Feces" which is a legitimate scientific paper that continues to influenced my research. Anyhow, Ron has made progress on his temporary passport despite being nearly shanked by three knife wielding vagrants in the downtown core of San Jose earlier today. Also, I have met and gotten acquainted with a "seemingly" great group of nature loving monkey-school students, with which I will spend the next 3-ish weeks. I say "seemingly" because field-schools can harbor some very dark horses. Actual horse-stealing, narcotic purchasing, orgy generating type dark horses. "Allegedly."

The Worst Christmases, Part 2, will have to wait as I now need to finish a job application and lecture presentation. All well after my bedtime.

Sweet dreams Ronman, Kitty, and Hammy. You are my BFs and I love you. I'll be in touch...

Monday, December 26, 2011

The WORST Christmases

I'm not really that into Christmas. I didn't grow up with it and given that I am not christian, well you get the idea. That being said, some years are more memorable than others, and not necessarily for all the tidings and joy. I am classifying 2011 under the second worst Christmas ever, but before going into details, will qualify "worst" with the first and third worst Christmases ever.

Number 1. Christmas 2010 was the worst Christmas ever. Madagascar + cement bed + 45 degrees Celcius + dengue fever + delerium. That was the WORST. I vaguely remember being semi-conscious and/or coherent and that I hadn't eaten or been able to drink water in quite some time. I listened to all 33 hours of the Roots audiobooks while sweating and  trying to remain alive.

Number 3. Christmas 1998. Ron and my "Kissaversary" is on December 15, 1998. The tricky thing is that, neither of us were actually single until Jan 1, 1999. It was complicated. We had been unknowingly dating, without actually dating, for months and had not only become best friends, but were also very much in love. Don't get too riled up about how horrible we were/are. Maybe some day I will fill you in on our ex-es. Let's just say one of them was pregnant (and NOT by Ron) and the other had a sexual orientation which did not include my gender. Oh, and a secret and extensive criminal record, and was more than a little psychotic. SO, in 1998 the whole lot of us had Christmas together. And why wouldn't we? While Ron and I were busy making goo-goo faces at each other, you could cut the tension between us and our soon-to-be-ex-es with a knife. Ron and I cooked dinner together amidst a plethora of huffing, door slamming and general uncomfortable conversation-non-conversations. At one point, we all gathered around to watch "Spice up your World." You know, the movie about/with the Spice Girls. So we were watching the worst movie/Christmas gift ever when the 15ft fully decorated Christmas tree fell over. ON THE CAT. I s*%t you not. That room had never seen so much broken glass and angst.

Alright, there you have it with my number 1 and 3 Worst Christmases. Tomorrow-ish, I will elaborate on the  2nd Worst Christmas ever. ie. 2011.

Grinch out.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jungle blog, cont...

I think I've found my sweet spot here. Ron is busily making dinner and has figured out how to make me a perfect fresh Pina Colada. The howler monkeys just came by to feed and our tucan is feeding on something above me. Oh, and we have a cat! Ahh...

Pina Colada, hammock, and outdoor shower.

I did have a mini melt-down yesterday, however. I was making phone calls trying to figure out how to get Ron out of this country and back to America, and who/how/where/when/why to do insurance claims. I can get a whopping $300 back for all of my camera stuff. It was worth over $4000. Its very difficult to completely insure electronics and I know that, but it had thus far not been an issue. Anyhow, I was figuring that out and then called the Canadian Embassy in San Jose to follow up with Ron's stuff and the Consular lady said we should leave for San Jose THAT MINUTE. She said that unless we were at the office at 7:30am (today) Ron would not make his flights, and that we better not travel through Limon at night because its too dangerous and we'd likely get car-jacked. I was standing there in my bathing suit and towel, and the urgency in her voice was my last straw.

But, when I relayed the info to Ron he was like "no way." First, car-jacking is not cool, second, we needed to arrange for passport references and paper work, and third, we would literally have had 1 day of vacation and then no more to come. So, he is going to be stuck in San Jose a couple extra days, but we will get to drive back to San Jose during the day, when car-jackings are less common, AND have our vacation. Yay!

Luna, our CR cat.

BTW- driving is difficult here because Costa Ricans' are freaking maniacs, but also because there is every class of animal on the road at every given time. Seriously, dogs, people, bikes, motorcycles (with three passengers, one of which is of course a baby), and semi-trailers all co-habit the roads and one-car bridges in a very fast mysterious equilibrium, which we have yet to figure out. And they all act all indignant, like "ya I'm a dog and I'm laying in the middle of the highway. Who the f%@k are you?" We almost bit IT about five times today in our 10 minute drive. Nuts.

My dinner!

Until next time...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Jungle blog

So today I am blogging from the veranda of our jungle "Root House." It is absolutely beautiful here and the wildlife is outstanding. From our porch I've already seen howler monkeys, 2 tucans, an agouti, and just spotted a bright yellow snake beside me- oh, actually I think its an eyelash viper, which is fairly dangerous. I'd better get Ron hidden... I am surrounded by forest noise, which I absolutely love, and am drenched in sweat, which I don't mind. Its not really very hot, its just that I tend to be sweaty. Especially above my lip. And that's not cool. I'm rockin the sweat stache.

Anyhow, yesterday sucked. As you may well know, we were robbed. At one of our stops along the way, some one got into our locked car and took two things: my camera bag, and Ron's backpack. I lost my camera lenses and accessories, and Ron lost his phone and passport. I was really choked. My camera lenses took years to acquire and were worth quite a few thousand dollars. And Ron is without passport. Oy. We had to report the theft at some special police office which felt pretty sketchy. They immediately separated Ron and I and took my passport. Seen "Locked Up Abroad?" Its a show about tourists who either get caught doing stupid sh$t (like smuggling drugs), or just get into unfortunate circumstances and spend their lives trying to get out of a reasonable facsimile of that jail from Midnight Express. That being said, it was fine and the officers were very nice. And, I'm totally over the whole thing. Neither of us were hurt. Stuff is just stuff and and can be replaced. INSERT MONKEY BREAK. ie howler monkeys just arrived at our house again, so I needed to take a look-see.

Ok, well I think I am going to take a nap. Or go to the beach. Or have a beer. Or lay in the hammock. I do need to rest up for my langoste dinner.

Until next time.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ron's not broken

We have now been on vacation for more than 24 hours and Ron has yet to hurt himself. This must be some sort of record.

Here is Ron. Still in one piece and having a tamarind juice in San Jose.

Our flights were fine, but please do take note that I am the GREATEST WIFE ON EARTH since I sacrificed my first class bump, for Ron's benefit. As a priority flyer, I got to board first and go into the fancy area of the plane -in front of the curtain- and in the few minutes I spent there downed a mimosa, stole a pillow, and then took the walk of shame back to seat 42D. I felt like I was walking into the lion's den. Ron was kind enough to visit me after his champagne, and steak dinner. I had club soda and a mini bag of pretzels, but who's counting. Realistically though, I was perfectly comfortable and Ron didn't get legs-don't-fit deep vein thrombosis, so we were both happy. And I get the good wife props.

We got to sample some airport southern fare in Atlanta. Ron said his fried chicken was amazing. I had collard greens, candied yams and mashed potatoes. I don't know who can eat the portions that the serve, but let me tell you, that shizzle was delicious.

Fried chicken in ATL.

We mostly just cruised around in San Jose today. Its busy and smelly, but relatively clean and feels safe. I dove right in and had rice and beans for breakfast. Food here is rice and bean based, which is good and bad. Good because it is nearly always palatable, bad because I don't like it. Hot sauce (picante) is my savior.

Bustling San Jose.

Tomorrow, we hope to make it out of this city alive in our rented car, will hit a sloth sanctuary to get our fill of cute and then check in at our rented Congo Bongo house on the beach. I WILL be eating lobster, fruit and chocolate for the next week, so don't worry too much about my nutritional health.

Oh look- the flower bouquets are wrapped in palm fronds.
I thought that was ingenious!

I'll be sure to let you know once I visited with sloths. Night!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Re-cap, Friday edition.

Once again, I find myself in re-cap territory. So, here goes:

1. Kissiversary. Yesterday was Ron and my 13th kissiversary. Its really hard to believe that its been so long. Last year, on our kissiversary I outlined the Top Ten reasons why I love my sweet Ronman. This year, we've agreed that, sure we are happy with each other as partners, but that really we have no alternative since we've been together long enough now that we are too weird and simply ruined for any other potential mates. Here are a few of the things that we have grown used to in each other.

a) Every night Ron goes to sleep with his head at the foot of the bed. He inevitably kicks me in the face at some point and then half way through the night flips so that his head is at the head spot. I'll put up with the face kicking, but I will not participate in this sharade, despite the begging. "Come on, two dogs," he pleads. No way, weirdo. Two dogs, btw, is a reference to a painting of two dogs from the movie Goodfellas.

b) My growing collection of dead things and other oddities. In our 600sq.ft. apartment currently have a human skeleton (with some spare parts), our deceased cat Sammy's skeleton, and a large collection of exoskeletons including a horseshoe crab. Oh and there has been a box of Malagasy dog, cat, and fossa poop sitting in our dining room for now 7 months. Oh, and the bag of chameleon heads is there too. Who else would put up with this sort of nonsense?

c) Ron's alter ego "Mr. Muggles" makes appearances from time to time. Mr. Muggles is a 300-lb orange and white cat from Brentwood Bay, BC, who had been working at the True Value grocery store selling "Chester Fried Chicken" for years. Mr. Muggles may tell you that he is a pilates instructor in Laguna Beach, but this is a straight out lie. Since getting laid off last year, Mr. Muggles has been collecting unemployment insurance, living in his mom's basement, and drinking 3 liters of Pepsi per day. Lets just say that the purring can be a bit much at times.

d) I am bossy. And pigheaded. Although I would pigheadedly argue that Ron is more pigheaded than I am. But I am still bossy. And it can get annoying.

Plus, we are genuinely concerned for things like each other's bowel health and potentially cancerous moles. Where else would we get such care? NOWHERE. Because we are ruined. 

Here is a pic from our other -iversary. The one I can't ever remember.

2. On another note, Kitty LaFleur is much better. She had 1.5 days of sick and then perked up again, thank goodness. I had her blood work done and although the vet I went to said everything looked ok, many of her panel values are outside of normal ranges, so I am taking her back to her vet. Oh, and Kitty has a friend (Morgan) coming all the way from Colorado to stay with her while Ron and I are away! Yippee for her and my piece of mind!

3. Dissertation LaFleur is rolling along. I am currently working through analyzing data for Chapter 4 (of 6!). Thank Almond (who is Ron's and my fictitious deity) that I have friend and coauthor Bender helping me with this!

Alright, lots to do. Two more sleeps! PS we are totally going to the baby sloth orphanage next week. Check it out:  :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Well, I said I was going to write every day in December, but ehum, that didn't happen. So, the following is a recap of the last few days at casa LaFleur.

1. I realized that quite a long time ago, I made a rather large mistake in the organization of my lemur feeding data. SO, I had to redo it all. OMG. Its like 5000 lines in excel and such a pain to do. Again. It took four mind numbing days, but thankfully, I am done. I seem to like to do things the wrong way once. Like putting together anything from IKEA. I always get the legs going in the opposite direction or the drawers upside down, and then the furniture is always slightly screwed up because of being together wrong. And I inevitably get all indignant and mad because clearly the directions are bad. You'd think I'd learn. On the bright side, I have finished Chapters 1-3, and am knees deep in Chaper 4, of what I have dubbed Dissertation LaFleur. Given that Dissertation LaFleur will have 6 chapters, I am stoked.

Groan. Endless excel...

2. I hit the jackpot with information about Mystery LaFleur. The Saskatchewan Archives board still had the entire file from 1937! Some of it is not really ledgable, as the microfilm was just too degraded. Anyone out there really good at deciphering badly 'smudged' text?

3. I had a follow-up appointment related to my hypochondriosis (maybe). At the utrasound joint. Wow, was I dreading that. Last time it took forever and the lady doing the scan was wrestling (literally) with the "gas" I didn't know I had. I was traumatized. This time, I had a dude ultrasound tech. I was a bit taken aback at first. I mean, dudes don't even do pat-downs on women at the airport, but this guy was playing gynecologist for the day? That being said, it was so much better than the first one and super fast. Huh. Who'd a thunk.

4. The Name Game, continues. Here is a re-re-cap of the names I've gotten:

  • Marleen
  • Margaret
  • Marty
  • Marfi
  • Margie
  • Markelby
  • Barfi
  • Bert
  • Meat
  • Maqi
  • MarlenyTY
  • Morning
  • Marony
  • Mary
  • Marinie
  • Marvin
  • Muvni
  • Marniy/Marmy/Marnay
  • Barnee (pictured, w/ Gary)
And yesterday, I got "Muvy" which was pronounced like Moovie. I think Barfi might be the worst. I normally just agree with whatever the barista says, but when she said "Barfi" my response was automatic. "You mean like vomit?" Oh, and of course, I did once get Marni. I almost fainted.

5. Kitty LaFleur is sick :( I took her in to see the vet today and they took some blood and did and exam. The vet said that her liver, spleen, and lymph nodes are enlarged. And that she is the equivalent of an eighty year old woman. Hmm. I don't want to think about that anymore. Kitty LaFleur literally is the child I haven't borne (is that grammatically correct?).

Kitty, all tucked in on Ron's Canada binkie.

Ni-night. TTYS.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dinner Conversation

Once in a while I catch myself saying something odd. And them I am a bit alarmed because Ron barely notices. A little while ago, the following conversation took place between Ron and I:

Marni- "I gave Kitty LaFleur a butt hair trim today."

Ron- "You could get arrested for that, you know."

Marni- "Are you ready to eat dinner?"

Ron- "Yep."

And that was all.

Oh, and I did you all a favor and watched a bunch of Randall's Wild Wild World of Animals videos. Sadly, after Honey Badger Don't Care, some of them are a tad disappointing. However, I believe the following are well worth the 2 minutes it will take you to view them.

The Jesus lizard.

The flamingo, featuring the baboon.

AND, the intoxicating Marula trees.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Honey Badger don't care

I'm sure you've seen this video before, as have I, but it is still AWESOME and worth viewing several more times. "Honey badger don't give a s%*t." "Ewe!"

How on earth can honey badger eat a freaking king cobra and not die? Is honey badger the Chuck Norris of the non-human animals? On first glance, I can't find any literature on how the honey badger metabolizes venom from wicked poisonous snakes or a zillion bees. I may have a new study species...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tired today

Last night, Ron and I somehow weezed in on free tickets to the Ducks/Flyers hockey game in Anaheim. Not just regular tickets either, but VIP entry to a luxury suite. We were, oddly, with a group of people from Philadelphia and were coerced by threat of  a) stabbing and/or b) verbal abuse, into rooting for the Flyers. Honestly, I don't have a particular preference anyhow. I will ALWAYS root for a Canadian team when possible, since we Canadians did invent the sport, but am simply happy to watch Merican teams and don't really have a particular preference. Except maybe the Penguins. There is a special place in my heart for Sydney Crosby, after that epic USA/Canada Olympic game. Regardless, the game went from 3-0 Anaheim in the first, to an OT 4-3 Flyers win. Awesome! I got all riled up and lost my voice from hooting and yipping. So, after all the excitement (and yelling), I am tired today. As is Kitty... She was pacing and pretty choked when we rolled in at 2am.
Kitty, taking a snooze this afternoon.
Ducks/Flyers 12/02/2011.

Oh, and today, I think I am "McUrnay."


Friday, December 2, 2011

Top Ten Posts!!

I promised to post everyday in December. And it is December. So, although this is kind of a cheat post, the following are my top ten most read blog posts. By and large, my most popular posts are from or about my trials and tribulations in Madagascar. I can't make any promises, because its the Disney Land of field work, but I will be in Costa Rica soon so I may have some decent tales to tell. Ron will be with me for a bit too, and he inevitably gets some kind of testicle parasite or creepy disorder when in the tropics, so that should be fun.

Costa Rica, 2009. I looked so young!
This was obviously before Madagascar tried to kill me.

Anyhow, here's the line up of Top Ten Posts:

10. Transitioning. This one is about the scariness of coming out of a forest after months, and being back in a city.

9.  Important Interview. I think the title says it all.

8. Dickens. Just a little complaining from Madagascar.

7. A day in the life. About being a field biologist. Definitely written before I cracked up and got all jaded.

6. Dickens, part 2. Some GOOD things about field work!

5. Ideas needed.  I never did get any idea suggestions, so if you are hanging on to some, SEND 'EM!

4. Car Ride from H-E-double-hockey-stick, FINALE. God, it pains me to even think of this...

3. The Little Bastards. Those bastards!

2. Survival. On not being dead. Go figure.

And the number one post of all time has nothing to do with my awesomeness and everything to do with what a wicked dude my grandpa Fred was:

1. A Thanksgiving Goodbye.

Happy Friday, peeps!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

DO NOT trust me, because you can't

I've hit an all new low.... I stole candy from a widow. A recent widow.  A recent widow who is a blood relative. Surely, I'm doomed. How did this happen? Well, I thought I'd put together a small Christmas package to send north, and very thoughtfully stocked it with, among other things, my absolute favorite candy bars. mmm. Chuao Spicy Maya, which is "Dark chocolate infused with pasilla chile, cayenne pepper and cinnamon." mmm. Normally, I would not bring home several of my favorite chocolate bars, because I will just eat them all. Like, at once. But, I figured these sweets were safe, because they weren't for ME. And they were safe, during the day. At 2 am I convinced myself that it was ok to crack into the chocolate because its not like these were my Grandma's favorites, right?

The evidence.
This morning, as I was guiltily confessing to Ron, I realized this may not actually be a new all time low. I remembered something about candy and orphaned handicapped kids in Madagascar... I can't honestly recall the whole story, but know that I bought a giant bag of cookies and candies and sweet things to take to an orphanage in Toliara. I went there when I first got to Madagascar last year because I wanted to see if there was anything I could get/give/do to help. Seriously, if anyone is worse off than a Malagasy handicapped orphan, it would be news to me. Oddly, there were no kids at the facility when I stopped, which come to think of it, seems a bit sketch. The kids were all "out." Anyhow, instead of leaving the giant bag of goodies for the non-existent orphans, I figured I'd drop them off at the primary school nearest my field site. The school kids may not be orphans, but they are half-starved anyhow, and thus are a worthy cause. But, I got a little peckish now and then, and then by the time I was anywhere near the school, the sack of treats was more dead soldiers than treats. So I just ate them.

Child-less handicapped orphanage.

There you have it. I steal candy from a) widows, b) handicapped orphans, and c) half-starved African kids. 

On another note, I just had to check out the now two day old baby capybara at the Zoo. Look!

I'm so cute!*

Are YOU my dad?!*

Awe. Family portrait. Except for Dad. Paternity test results pending. 

I couldn't help snapping a pic at this dude on my way out:

What a mug!

Alright. I'll try not to do anything too heinous tonight...

* Italicized captions are my mostly annoying interpretations of what I think animals are thinking.