Saturday, July 19, 2008

Another trip, another plan

It's time for me to start planning my September trip to London. My loyal readers (all four of them) will think that this blog is sounding like a broken record. The main focus of this trip is London Open House Weekend -- two days when over 600 buildings, usually not accessible by the general public, will open their doors to the hoi polloi. I've placed my online order for the booklet (5 quid) detailing all the buildings that will be open so that I can start making my plan of attack.

I'd actually given some thought to going over without having made a spreadsheet for the trip. Who am I kidding? As if. But the spreadsheet is looking mighty empty right now, and I've got to get cracking. I reckon the weather will be much better in September than what I've had in my previous April and October visits, and so I'm thinking of doing some walks along the Thames, weather permitting. One might be in Chiswick, and another from Tower Bridge to Rotherhithe. I'd also like to go back to Southbank Mosaics to volunteer again. I'll post more as the plan takes shape.
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Friday, July 11, 2008

My Wordle

I made this at, but I can't figure out how to make it look bigger on this page. You'll just have to click on it. Wordle makes a graphic representation of the words you use in your blog. It's pretty cool.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Mother Nature

I really don't know squat about nature. Agriculture, yes, but nature, not so much. When I was a kid, my mother used to take us for evening drives in the country, and she'd point out all the different crops in the fields, so I can identify squash or beans at 55 mph, but I hardly know the difference between a crow and a pigeon. I prefer my flora cultivated and my fauna domesticated. But now that I have a digital camera, and work on a campus with lovely lakes and gardens to look at on noontime walks, I've been trying to pay more attention to it all.

Last year, I saw dragonflies and damselflies, cedar waxwings and a great blue heron, and I've learned the names of a couple new plants like fernleaf peony, Spigelia marilandica and Eryngium. I often took pictures of things and then posted them on Flickr and asked people to tell me what they were.

This year, I've been watching tadpoles turn into froglets in a little artificial pond near the Mount Holyoke greenhouse. Here are two tadpoles as they looked back in April. You'll probably have to click on the photo and view it large in order to see them. They're the grey blobs with eyes in the middle of the photo.

Nothing happened for weeks and weeks. The tadpoles swam around in the pond, but didn't seem to be morphing. Then, in June, they quickly got legs and came out of the water to sit on the lily pads. If you look closely, you can see that one still has a long tadpole tail, one has a stumpy tail, and the others have tailless bums.

Here's Big Mama (or Big Daddy) watching over all the little guys in the pond. Two weeks ago, I could see twenty or so of the froglets at any given time. Now I only see a couple. I think the rest have learned to hop and have left the pond to explore the natural world around them.

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