Friday, December 30, 2011

Weekend Haiku & Limericks

Your challenge: write a haiku featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: Greenpeace, jumping aboard a ship, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.


A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.


Post your happy haiku or limerick in the comments, below.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Greenpeace Days--aboard the Rainbow Warrior

My friends Barb and Roxie cornered me at a recent holiday party and asked why I haven't posted any stories about my days in Greenpeace. I dunno...I just never thought about it. So here, for Barb and Roxie, is a small shipboard story that comes to mind:

When the waves came hard against the sides of the Rainbow Warrior, you had to be careful opening the little fridge in the mess. As the ship tilted to starboard, all contents shifted toward the back of the fridge. This was the time to open the door and assess the contents--then close the door quickly before the ship tilted toward port. When you rolled back again, you could open the door and grab whatever you'd come for. Under no circumstance should you open the fridge door when the ship was tilted toward port.

It was much more fun when we were heading into the waves rather than against them. Dan'l had been to sea before, and he showed me a neat trick when the ship was plunging into oncoming waves. Standing on the deck, we bent our knees and timed a leap into the air so that it coincided with the ship's highest point on a wave. The astonishing result was that, as the Rainbow Warrior dropped into the trough, Dan'l and I were suspended 15+ feet above the deck, arms windmilling, looking down at the impossibly long drop beneath us. There was time to gaze out at the blue of the ocean, blue and blue and blue all the way to the far-off horizons. As the ship rose up to meet us, we'd land, with the impact somewhat more than if we'd made a typical jump into the air--and then we'd ready ourselves for the next impossible leap.

But Peter Willcox, captain of the Rainbow Warrior, did not suffer fools lightly. He leaned out from the bridge to drawl, "We're two hundred miles from land. If either of you idiots breaks a leg, I'm not turning this ship around. You'll just have to wait till we get to our next port."

"Aye aye, Captain!" we hollered (Peter hated when we called him "captain"), and leaped again for joy.
The good ship Rainbow Warrior, in a calm sea
with no fools a-leaping


(Want to read more about Greenpeace days? Click on the "Search this Blog" box to the right and enter the word Greenpeace.) 

Monday's Nature Quote

If winter comes, can spring be far behind?
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley
Photo by adelcambre 


Friday, December 23, 2011

Weekend Haiku & Limericks


Your challenge: write a haiku featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: octopuses (escaping or otherwise), the solstice, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Kindly post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Solstice!

Just in the nick of time!

Today, Dec 21, is the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere. So it's also the longest night of the year, but at 12:30 a.m. EST, the solstice occurs, bringing gradually longer daylight.

I'm ready, are you?

(Sorry Australia & NZ~ warm weather is turning our way now!)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday's Nature Quote

Shall I not have intelligence with the earth?  Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself?  
~ Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Octopus escape!

smarty pants photo by neptunecanada 
When it comes to intelligent invertebrates, the octopus is head and--let's say--shoulders above the rest.

Scientists have taught them to run mazes, open jars and small doors, and distinguish shapes, colors, and textures. Captive octopuses recognize specific people (wild ones, too, become friendly with certain divers) and often endear themselves to their keepers. One clever octopus slithered out of its tank at night, ate fish in a nearby aquarium, and then returned to its own tank--confounding the researcher who repeatedly discovered an apparently undisturbed and yet empty fish aquarium.

Captain Rob, an Alaskan fisherman who posts on YouTube, found an octopus in a shrimp trap (it had not only eaten shrimp, it had unscrewed the bait jar and snacked on the shrimp-bait pellets!). In recognition of the creature's "intelligence and genius," states the fisherman, he allowed the mollusk to find its way off the ship to freedom--and filmed it so we could also watch the octopus escape.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Weekend Haiku & Limericks

Your challenge: write a haiku featuring one of the subjects mentioned here in the past seven days: snow, Girl Scouts, dog sled rides, tree wells, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.


A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.


If your clever brain comes up with a haiku or limerick, kindly post in the comments below.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Stay away from the trees, girls!


Some years back, I took my Girl Scout troop up to Mount Hood to enjoy dog sled rides in the snow. But this post is not about Girl Scouting, not about mountains, and not about dog sled rides. It's about a girl disappearing into a tree well.
Here's how it happened:
There were 15 girls in my charge, and the sled driver asked if her daughter could stay with the rest of the troop, while she took a few girls at a time for the sled ride. Well, certainly. How much trouble could one more girl be?
Those of us left behind, girls and moms waiting for our turns, did the usual snowy things: we built forts and had snowball fights, and we fell down. A lot. The snow was so deep that we were post-holing with nearly every step we took. So when one of the girls shouted "She fell down!" I wondered at the note of urgency in her voice. We were all falling down.
But one of the volunteer moms started running toward two girls--and because she was running, I started running too. The mom later told me that she had glanced over toward three girls, and when the shout came, she looked again and saw only two. 
I didn't know why I was running until we reached the two shouting girls and I saw the hole beside a tree--and the third girl embedded in it. When the snow had given way, the sled driver's daughter had fallen in feet first, with her arms upraised. She was looking up at us from about four feet below the surface, wedged into a tube. I assured her we'd get her out and ordered the other girls away. The volunteer mom and I laid on our stomachs to reach the kid, grabbing hold to pull and pull, and grab and pull again, gradually heaving her out. One of the other mothers later said it was one of the oddest sights she'd ever seen--our strange struggle to haul that child out of the depths of the snow.
But the sledder's daughter was a hardy kid; once she was out she didn't seem too concerned about the experience...even though she hadn't been touching bottom...even though there was no way she could have freed herself...even though if she'd been any deeper our arms would not have reached her. No, I was the rattled one, yelling, "Stay away from the trees, girls!" (Not the words a Girl Scout leader typically says to the youth in her charge, by the way.)


Photo by iwona_kellie
of someone not trapped in a large tree well

Here's how tree wells are formed: branches, especially conifer branches, deflect the snow, creating a pocket of air or loose snow against the trunk. You usually can't tell whether a specific tree has a well--the branches hide it. 
And while the dog sledder's daughter was not in any immediate danger,  snowboarders and skiers have died in tree wells, unable to free themselves.
This typically happens on un-groomed, power snow, and can easily be prevented by avoiding trees. 
So if you're the type who likes the freedom and excitement of off-trail skiing, please remember: STAY AWAY FROM THE TREES, GIRLS!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday's Nature Quote

We cannot win this battle to save species and environments without forging an emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well--for we will not fight to save what we do not love. 
~Stephen Jay Gould



Friday, December 9, 2011

Weekend Haiku & Limericks

Your challenge: write a haiku featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: Kepler 22-b, and earth-like planet, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.


A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.


If you stretch your mind into haiku or limericks, post 'em in the comments, below.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Plan B

This undated handout artist rendering
provided by NASA shows Kepler-22b(AP)
Okay, so researchers have discovered "a ‘habitable’ earth-like planet, which is orbiting around a sun-like star." 


Kepler 22-b, located in our very own galaxy, is estimated to stay at a comfy 72 degrees Fahrenheit, has an orbit of 290 days in a year, and has appropriate conditions for water to exist on the surface of the planet.  


Quick quiz--should we:


a) hightail it over there, along with carefully-chosen friends and family


b) send the polluters and haters there so they'll stop destroying this perfectly nice planet we already have and we can set to work restoring it


c) keep our mitts off it as humans are not to be trusted with a pristine planet


Whaddya think?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday's Nature Quote

From my boyhood I have observed leaves, trees, and grass, and I have never found two alike. They may have a general likeness, but on examination I have found they differ slightly. Plants are of different families... it is the same with animals... it is the same with human beings; there is some place which is best adapted to each. The seeds of the plant are blown about by the wind until they reach the place where they will grow best--where the action of the sun and presence of the moisture are most favorable to them, and there they take root and grow.
~ Okute, Teton Sioux

Friday, December 2, 2011

Weekend Haiku & Limericks

Your challenge: write a haiku featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: boots, squirrel statue, oak savanna, Christmas trees, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Kindly post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas trees: real or fake?

Which is better, environmentally-speaking: a real or a fake Christmas tree?  
There are a lot of factors to consider, from their carbon footprints to their ultimate disposals.  Happily, there are always scientists willing to focus on every little angle.  And Ellipsos, a consulting firm in Montreal, has determined that the environment is better off if we choose real trees over fake. Some of their points:
  • Real trees produce oxygen and take in carbon dioxide
  • Fake trees often contain polyvinyl chloride, which produces carcinogens during manufacturing and disposal
  • Christmas tree farms provide green space near urban centers
  • Real trees create habitat for animals
However, sticklers in this debate might point out that Ellipsos only considered trees bought in Montreal and either grown in Quebec or manufactured in China, so the controversy--like It’s A Wonderful Life--will probably remain a seasonal favorite. 
 If you celebrate Christmas, do you prefer a real or a fake tree?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Any guesses?

Several weeks back I took myself on a fine little nature walk at a park very near an interstate highway (that's one clue). 








There were big-leaf maple trees.
















With honkin' big leaves.


But this photo has the real clue:


Yup, oak leaves. It's estimated that the oak savanna habitat that once covered 500,000 acres in the Willamette Valley of Oregon has been reduced to about 1% of its original range. But there are several pockets where you can see this habitat preserved. Any local folks have guesses as to which one I was at? Here's your last hint, and it's a big one, if you've visited the same place:


Any guesses???



Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday's Nature Quote

[T]he greatest beauty is organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty of the universe. Love that, and not man apart from that....


~Robinson Jeffers
Photo from www.earthball.com 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Weekend Haiku & Limericks

It's been a quiet week here in the blogosphere. So for this weekend, let's say the haiku/limerick challenge is: Thanksgiving or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Next week, more subject challenges--this week, it's a free-for-all!

Post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday's Nature Quote

When a volcano erupts, the press refers to it as a "natural" disaster. Like all events of nature that harm human beings, however, it is a human disaster, there being neither hazard nor disaster without the presence of human beings.


--Janet M. Cullen Tanaka
Mount St Helens by Gord McKenna

Friday, November 18, 2011

Weekend Haiku & Limericks

Your challenge: write a haiku featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: truffula trees, books, books books, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.


A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.


Kindly post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Resistance is futile

The siren call is strong--how do you resist?


You don't.


You stop in and spend a pleasant stretch of time pulling intriguing books off the shelves, reading a few pages of one, being ensnared by the title of another.


I managed to escape with only four books this time; two I'd heard of, and two I hadn't. 


How about you--what are you reading these days?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday's Nature Quote

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into the trees. The winds will blow their freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
--John Muir


Mount Hood photo by margolove

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Truffula tree







Every day on my way to and from work, I walk by this truffula tree.














Here's hoping nobody decides they 
need a thneed. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Weekend Haiku & Limericks

Your challenge: write a haiku featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: degrees of darkness, commuter dogs, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too (which is where Roxie's degrees of darkness comes in).

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.
A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Commuter dogs

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, feral dogs began to figure out how to ride the subway. There was now food to be had in Moscow, so they learned how to negotiate the morning trains to ride from the suburbs to downtown--and back again in the evening.


Once downtown, they have at least two methods for scoring food: the cute ones approached folks with food and begged, sometimes by laying their heads on a sitting person's knee and giving 'em the ol' big eyes. The thing is, according to Dr Andrei Poiarkov, of the Moscow Ecology and Evolution Institute, the dogs also figured out who was likely to be an easy touch. "Dogs are surprisingly good psychologists," he says in The Sun.


The second method the dogs use is a scare tactic that Dr. Poiarkov calls "going on a shawarma hunt." Again, the dogs size up their victims, this time choosing those most likely to startle. When one of these people procures their shawarma from a streetside vendor, the dog comes up from behind and suddenly barks. If all goes according to plan, the meat kabob drops to the ground, and the dog nabs it.


The commuter dogs also use traffic signs to cross the roads safely--relying on the electronic figures of a walking person to know when to step off the curb.


After a day of making a living, the dogs board the subway for the return trip, judging when to get off by the length of time or perhaps the conductor's call at each station. The dogs sometimes fall asleep, though, and get off at the wrong stop. (Sound familiar?)
Somebody wake me when we get to Люблинско-Дмитровская.
 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Monday's Nature Quote

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light. To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight, and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings, and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.
--Wendell Berry, "To Know the Dark"

Friday, November 4, 2011

Weekend Haiku & Limericks

Your challenge: write a haiku featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: rain, mosses/lichens, Alzheimer's, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.

Haikus away!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Human Nature: My Dad

There were two times when I was a kid that I remember watching my dad disappear and being afraid that he wouldn’t be able to find his way back.
The first time I was very young, sitting on a dock, and the ball my sister and I had been playing with floated off beyond the horizon. My dad set off swimming to bring it back. It seemed too far for someone to be able to swim, and still return--but he did, pushing the ball ahead of him through the water.
The second time I was perhaps 11 or 12. Our car had just had some repair work done--faulty repair work, as it turned out, because it caught fire in our garage. The fire department would arrive and put it out, but before they did, as black smoke billowed out into the driveway, my sister and I cried for our dog, who was trapped inside. My dad dove into the smoke, and I was afraid that we’d asked for too much--that we would lose my father in addition to the dog--but out they both came, coughing and safe. 
Now these many decades later, my dad is in a care facility for people with Alzheimer's. The cruelty of this disease, of course, is that it takes away your loved ones, even as they physically remain with you. The last time I visited my dad, he fell asleep (as he often does during our visits) and after a while his hand rose up shakily, as if he were reaching for something in his dream. I grasped his hand, which woke him, and I said, “It looked like you were reaching for something. What were you trying to get ahold of?” And he looked at me and said, “Your hand.”  
And there he is, my dad, somehow swimming against the current, impossibly stepping out of the smoke--he comes back to us once again.




(Want to read more of these stories? Click on the "Search this Blog" box to the right and enter the words Human Nature.) 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday's Nature Quote

The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives.
                                                                                                                 --Indian proverb



Sunday, October 30, 2011

All my relations

Okay, I confess: I'm not one of those Oregonians who loves the rain. I'm always sorry to see the lovely summer chased away by the descent of the dark damp days.


You gotta pet it, right? How could you resist?
But...this time of year, the lichens and mosses are once again all plumped and beautiful, and they make such absolutely pettable pelts on the trees. 


And here on the western side of the Cascades, those mosses and lichens grow on anything that doesn't keep moving--tree branches and trunks, stumps, and rocks, and the trail side itself. 



You'd best keep moving if you don't want to end up like this.

Dude, that wig isn't fooling anyone.

But in the end, I really can't complain too much. As people who live here are fond of pointing out, it's the rain that keeps the Pacific Northwest so green. 

Besides, repeatedly reassuring ourselves of that helps to relieve the tedium of the downpours.





















Friday, October 28, 2011

Weekend Haiku & Limericks

Your challenge: write a haiku featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: harbor seals, surfers, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hey, who's that?

Photo by mikebaird 
Years ago I sat on a beach watching my friend Jolyon surf--when a dog poked its head out of the water behind him. It took me a moment to realize that the "dog" was really a seal. I yelled and pointed, but Jolyon couldn't hear me over the sound of the surf and never did turn around to see the companion that trailed along behind him.

When harbor seals are in their element--water--they tend to be very curious. They'll check out boaters as well as surfers, and will swim parallel to people walking along the shoreline. 


When the animal dives, it closes off nostrils and earholes, and its heart rate slows to 10% of its capacity. Blood flow remains strong to the heart and brain, but dawdles to the extremities. A harbor seal can hold its breath for 20 minutes in dives that reach nearly 300 feet below the surface. But most of the time the seal is underwater for just 3 to 5 minutes before popping its head up for a quick look around.


Have you ever watched seals--or had them watch you?