Saturday, 23 October 2010

Mutant psyllids and a return to academia

Pale Tussock Calliteara pudibunda larva Sep 2010

OK, so I’ve been slacking, blog-wise. No need to rub it in though - I’m doing a good enough job of feeling guilty without any outside intervention!

So, what’s been happening? Narcolepsy-wise, things have been ticking along pretty much as usual; in fact, if anything, I’ve recently had more good days than bad, which is a very welcome turn of events. Needless to say, I’ve been making the most of this, although I’m grounded enough to know that this rare ‘reprieve’ is only temporary. Still, I’m going to enjoy it whilst it lasts!

Well, the big news is that I’ve finally begun my PhD - hoorah! I’ve survived a week of pretty full-on induction sessions, had an introduction to the world of teaching in higher education, and met some lovely fellow researchers. And other than a few wobbly moments, when I found myself struggling to remain in the land of the living, I got through it all and came out the other side in one piece. Cognitive behavioural therapy - pah!

Now, talk about a come-down. I knew it was too good to be true. The post has just arrived, and guess what? Yep, my recent communication regarding my initial failed attempt to secure a particular benefit has fallen on deaf ears - again. In many ways, I’m not at all surprised, as this seems to be the norm, but it’s not just the money, it’s the fact that the information painstakingly prepared in support of my application is time and time again being blatantly ignored, as the stated reasons for my lack of entitlement contradict completely the information and evidence I have given to the powers that be. Still, I’m NOT going to let the b***ards grind me down, and I will simply grit my teeth and power through to the next stage of appealing the decision. Like I haven’t got enough to do already! Oh well, nobody ever said it was going to be easy…. [wry smile].

OK, letter dismissed. Back to more important things. Bugs! To be precise - psyllids. Tiny, tiny insects that hang out on plant foliage. I won’t go into detail about the remit of my PhD project, but as you’ve probably managed to deduce, psyllids feature heavily. As such, the last week or so has been dominated by attempting to obtain insider knowledge of everything ‘psyllidic’ - by no means an easy task, as the group is massively understudied. But, I do now feel as though I’m getting somewhere, and you know me, I love a challenge! Mind you, when trying to get back to sleep this morning, every time I closed my eyes, bizarre alien bugs, which looked remarkably psyllid-like, immediately appeared in front of my eyes. Hmm, methinks I might have been overdoing it somewhat.

Typically, having finally managed to expel the mutant psyllids from my silly brain, I eventually gave up on getting anymore sleep when I realised that the telephone had been ringing for quite some time. Immediately, with thoughts of bad news careering through my mind, I staggered downstairs, where I found that I had been beaten to it by my OH, who was standing by the ‘phone, sporting a somewhat quizzical look. ‘It’s a mobile number. Do you know where my wallet is? It might be X’. Well, it wasn’t X; however, it was another friend, who, it turns out, had taken charge of a rescued young vole, which she’d found whilst walking along the coastpath, the vole apparently disorientated and determined to live a marine life, as it was observed repeatedly heading into the sea. ‘Help, what do voles eat? What do I feed it on? What do I do next?’ So, no sooner had I got myself out of bed than I was out there in Cyberspace researching how to look after poorly and/or convalescing voles. We’re off to see it this afternoon, complete with detailed care and management notes, and I will provide an update as soon as there is more news.
Rain-covered webs of the Garden Spider Araneus diadematus Newlyn Sep 2010
Well, much as I’d like to remain here recalling my many encounters with all things wild and wonderful (spiders, butterflies, aphids, snails, slugs, caterpillars, millipedes and a very friendly robin, to name but a few), I feel compelled to abandon my memories to the re-discovery of our cottage, which has been missing in action since the Small Person’s 5th birthday celebrations a fortnight ago. 
Oh no, but how could I forget my very own Birthday Bug Hunt? Now that I’ve whet your appetite, I think I’m going to have to save that for another post… in the meantime, enjoy the piccies!

Comma Polygonia c-album Marazion, Sep 2010

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