Sunday, December 29

Meanwhile...

We are sitting in my family room.

Ian: Who painted that still life?
Me: My Grandma, I think.
Ian: Oh.  It's really good.
Me: Actually I am not sure.  I should figure it out before I say that.
Ian: Oh.  Cool.  Who did that painting?  (Indicates an adolescent crayon drawing.)
Me: William.  It is of my mum.  *pause*  Painting?
Ian: *shrug*  And that goose?  (Indicates a taxidermy piece.)
Me: What?  Oh we've had that for ages.
Ian: Who is it of?
Me:*incredulous look*  What?
Ian: Who is it of?
Me: You.
Ian: No, you said you have had it for ages.  You haven't known me that long.
Me: I have known you longer than we have had that goose.
Ian (in a confused voice): Why do you have a goose of me?!

If you ever wanted to know what Ian and I talk about when we are alone...

Sunday, December 22

Some Finals Miracles

Honestly, I am always surprised by how many crazy blessings finals week brings.  It is horrific in nature, but I have seen so many academic miracles as I have prayed and pleaded for guidance and direction.  Here are a couple that may seem silly but have made this week into a testament of God's love.  :)

1. Fusarium

I've spent hours accumulating various bugs and weeds for two extensive collections for my Plant Health Diagnosis class.  It's been fun, if stressful.  Our final collection involved "discovering" and culturing at least 10 plant diseases.  We were collecting everything we could find from leaf spots to tumors and galls, carefully dissecting our samples, placing them in petri dishes of agar, and allowing whatever we had captured to grow and thrive, hopeful that we'd be able to identify and collect a new disease for our collection.

For example,

These leaves from our plum tree turned out to be infected with Alternaria, generally referred to as the "Common Cold" for plants.  After carefully culturing a few of the infected areas, these mycelium and spores grew, showing that I had successfully collected and cultured it.

Some diseases were pretty easy to locate and culture.  Corn smut, pictured left, was one our professor showed to us.  (The kernels have literally been changed to become these powdery "galls", which (Ian tells me) are eaten as a delicacy in Mexico.  The small black particles inside are pictured microscopically on the right.

But as the weeks drew on, the "easy diseases" were long since collected and everyone was frantically searching for new diseases.  There was one in particular I knew I had found on corn roots- a fungus called "Fusarium."  You can tell you've cultured it because it produces a bright red color in the petri dish.  It had been growing for weeks and weeks and I began to realize it would never produce the small, banana shaped spores I needed to count it in my collection.


In frustration, I realized I'd have to go out and search for more samples.

The next day it snowed.

I was horrified.  All chances of finding adequate plant diseases had been drastically reduced.  I didn't even know where to go or how to begin.  That night I knelt in prayer and, feeling silly, I asked for a miracle.  I asked for my sample to produce the Fusarium spores I'd been seeking.  I knew that the next day was the last day for us to work in the lab, and if there weren't spores, I had lost out on a significant part of the collection's points.

The next day, on my birthday (ironically), I proceeded to the lab at two, as per usual.  I went straight to the drawer where our cultures were kept and drew out the 17 or so dishes that I had been working on.  I sorted through them and found the two that supposedly held Fusarium.

Nothing.

I felt a little numb... like I always do when I realize I have unwillingly forfeited part of my grade.  I sorted through the rest of the dishes, trying to decide what to do.  Then... suddenly... I saw red.

There was one dish I had filled a few weeks prior, using a small leaf that I had found on a Firethorn bush by the parking lot.  Nothing "consistent" had come out of the 5 samples I had put in it, and my professor had told me it wasn't likely to produce anything, so I had put it aside, assuming it was a useless attempt.

 But here... from one of the samples... was some red growth.  I showed it to the TA who agreed that it was very likely Fusarium.  "It isn't likely to have produced spores yet, but we should check," she explained.  We cut out a few small pieces of the reddish agar, and placed them on slides.  And we started searching.

Some minutes later, she smiled and turned the scope to me.  I looked inside, and lo-

Seemingly growing out of nowhere,
Fusarium.


















2.

I woke up at 6:00 on Monday from a difficult night's sleep, feeling apprehensive for my turf and religion finals.  I jumped into the shower and as I was washing my hair (there is something about the shower that allows for revelation) I had a sinking realization.

I had three small assignments that had been due that morning at 6:00.

I finished and ran downstairs to my computer and read over the announcements in my class, hoping I was mistaken.  But no, two small feedback assignments were overdue-one of which accounted for 20% of my grade because it was a participation report.  In red lettering under the announcement (which had been posted a week prior) read something like: "I will absolutely not accept these submissions late.  Don't ask for expectations."

I was already facing a lower grade in the class and I felt absolutely sick at the prospect of getting a low enough score that I would need to take it again.  I did the only thing I could think to do.  I knelt down and prayed that all would be well and that I could focus on my exams.  I filled out the submissions regardless and emailed the professor explaining that they were available if he needed them, even if not for credit.



That evening, we received a message from our professor:

I know it is a busy time. I have extended the Peer Eval and the P&A self grade deadlines to

Tuesday morning 6:00am.

Please complete them TODAY. It would be a shame to lose those significant points.




Silly as it is, I wept with relief. I knew Heavenly Father's awareness, even to things that weren't necessarily important. Even if these things hadn't come through, he helped me to feel calm and prepared for whatever would happen. I feel like that is in itself the greatest relief that can come. :)